For as long as I know, I have been fascinated by frameworks.
I like frameworks because a framework provides an easy to understand and accessible entry into a new discipline. For instance, if you are beginning to study strategy, it is very easy to be totally overwhelmed by the sheer size of the discipline. However, you can get an entry point by going through some of the popular frameworks (or theories) such as the BCG Quadrant, Competitive Advantage, Ansoff’s matrix, Theory of Aggregation, etc.
Also, some people are naturally hardwired in a way where they force-fit each component of knowledge into a structure. This makes it easy to recall the right piece of information and use it to solve the right problem.
When we talk about Behavioral Science, one of the key problems it tries to address is ‘How to change a behavior’. The behavior could be to make people eat healthy, save more for the future, or just mindlessly scroll through cute kitten memes on their phones.
Given the fact that this discipline has emerged from an intersection of Economics and Psychology, there are a number of frameworks that are available for practitioners to use in real-world projects. These are mostly called Behavior Design frameworks, as an allusion to the objective, these aim to achieve. The good thing is that most of these frameworks are based on solid first-hand academic research, hence the robustness of these frameworks is beyond question.
If you are feeling bored at this point of time, remember that Amazon putting up a badge of “Amazon’s Choice” in search results when you search for a pillow set, is the result of one of these frameworks in action. Want to know more? Keep Reading.
Behavior Design Frameworks
A few days back, I had posted on Linkedin about Behavior Design frameworks, seeking help from the leading practitioners and academics in building a robust list. The post got a lot of traction and many incredibly talented and vastly experienced people shared their inputs on it.
These inputs not only helped me in building a better understanding of these frameworks, but also led to some fascinating one-on-one discussions, which was extremely rewarding.
In this post, I share more details on these frameworks to help you in getting started with your Behavior Design journey. I have looked at all the frameworks in the above list except those which were behind paywalls.
But before we go any further, here’s a quick reality check on the ‘usefulness’ of frameworks from the inimitable Dilip Soman, who is a Professor at the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto and Canada Research Chair in Behavioural Science. Basically a rockstar!
“…research also suggests that heuristics could sometimes backfire and that there are dangers in using descriptive frameworks in a prescriptive manner without a careful study of the underlying context.”
“…before applying the framework, it is critical to spend some time in diagnosing the context in which the end user is making decisions and judging whether the context is similar to the BIAS projects on which the framework is based”
In a nutshell, before applying any framework, the right context of the problem (in this case Behavior Design) needs to be understood. Also, descriptive frameworks should not be used as a diagnostic tools to solve a problem.
Keeping this in mind, let’s look at some of the key frameworks in Behavior Design space.
Types of Frameworks
In a simplistic manner, the behavior design frameworks can be categorized as process-driven and intervention-drive.
Process-driven frameworks typically prescribe a set of steps that one has to take to achieve behavior change. Such frameworks may start from an understanding of the behavior issue, analysis of situation, look at the options available, etc. These frameworks usually do not suggest the specific interventions (for instance specific nudges) that need to be undertaken to implement behavior change. Thus, the process-driven frameworks are more diagnostic in nature.
Intervention-driven frameworks provide the levers which can be used to drive behavior change. These frameworks are less diagnostic and can be implemented only once the diagnostic part has been undertaken. However, these provide a more directed way of driving the behavior change by using the levers prescribed by the framework.
From the author:
To be effective at designing for behavior change, we need more than an understanding of the mind: we need a process that helps us find the right intervention and the right technique for a specific audience and situation.
What does this process look like? I like to think about it as six steps, which we can remember with the acronym ‘DECIDE’: That’s how we decide on the right behavior-changing interventions in our products. It’s important to emphasize that the process is inherently iterative. That’s because human behavior is complicated, and this stuff is hard!
Author: Stephen Wendel
From the authors:
The application of Behavioural Insights in Public Policy, i.e. Behavioural Public Policy, has definitely come to stay. Little, beyond inspiration, has, however, been written about how to actually apply Behavioural Insights in Public Policy; that is, about the processes, tools and challenges through which a BI-project usually progresses.
In particular, almost nothing has been written about how BI-specialists approach a policy issue in behavioural terms as well as identifies suitable Behavioural Insights to apply in order to ensure an effective and responsible policy intervention. To close this gap, Karsten Schmidt and I recently published a new framework for applying behavioural insights in the Journal ‘Politik & Økonomi’.
The framework is called BASIC and is a result of the almost 10 years of work with Behavioural Insights we have carried out at iNudgeyou – The Applied Behavioural Science Group
BASIC is not only distinguished from earlier frameworks like MINDSPACE and EAST by encompassing the whole process involved in BI-projects. It also distinguishes itself by being diagnostic – a feature captured in BASIC by means of a theoretical framework which systematically relates the ANALYSIS of BEHAVIOR to that of identifying what Behavioural Insights to apply as potential SOLUTIONS.
Authors: Karsten Schmidt and Pelle Guldborg Hansen
From the author:
With the rising interest in behaviorally-informed solutions, the demand for simple, efficient and implementable strategies increases. While academia has revealed many relevant insights, some so prominent that they have reached bestseller status, the discussion on how the innovative insights can be made more widely accessible and sustainable is still lagging behind.
Practitioners attracted to the field, are looking for tools to translate complex behavioral science theory into practice. More intuitive frameworks and guidelines are now needed, allowing public and private policy makers an easy and target-oriented identification of behavioral interventions. Moreover, insights from related disciplines should be integrated to further increase the impact of behavioral insights
D.R.I.V.E.® as an acronym for D.efine, R.esearch, I.dentify, V.alidate, E.xecute, and by proposing an easy taxonomy for behavioral interventions in practice. Synthesizing insights from literature on habituation, evolutionary biology, design, learning and change management, we present a simple prism for an easy identification and evaluation of behavioral interventions in practice. This extension of D.R.I.V.E.® attempts to give new impulses to academia and practice and stimulate the further development of applied behavioral insights.
Author: Torben Emmerling
From the author:
Individuals and habits are all different, and so the specifics of diagnosing and changing the patterns in our lives differ from person to person and behavior to behavior. Giving up cigarettes is different than curbing overeating, which is different from changing how you communicate with your spouse, which is different from how you prioritize tasks at work. What’s more, each person’s habits are driven by different cravings.
Thus, this book doesn’t contain one prescription. Rather, I hoped to deliver something else: a framework for understanding how habits work and a guide to experimenting with how they might change.
- Identify the routine
- Isolate the cue
- Have a plan
Author: Charles Duhigg
Know more at: https://charlesduhigg.com/how-habits-work/
From the author:
How do successful companies create products people love to use? Why do some products capture widespread attention while others flop? What makes us engage with certain products out of sheer habit? Is there a pattern underlying how technologies hook us?
Nir Eyal answers these questions (and many more) by explaining the Hook Model—a four-step process embedded into the products of many successful companies to subtly encourage customer behavior. Through consecutive “hook cycles,” these products reach their ultimate goal of bringing users back again and again without depending on costly advertising or aggressive messaging.
Hooked is based on Eyal’s years of research, consulting, and practical experience. He wrote the book he wished had been available to him as a start-up founder—not abstract theory, but a how-to guide for building better products. Hooked is written for product managers, designers, marketers, start-up founders, and anyone who seeks to understand how products influence our behavior.
Author: Nir Eyal
Know more at: https://www.nirandfar.com/hooked/
COMB or BCW
From the author:
The Behaviour Change Wheel (BCW) was developed from 19
frameworks of behaviour change identified in a systematic literature
review. It consists of three layers.
The hub identifies the sources of the behaviour that could prove fruitful targets for intervention. It uses the COM-B (‘capability’, ‘opportunity’, ‘motivation’ and ‘behaviour’) model. This model recognises that behaviour is part of an interacting system involving all these components. Interventions need to change one or more of them in such a way as to put the system into a new configuration and minimise the risk of it reverting.
Surrounding the hub is a layer of nine intervention functions to choose from based on the particular COM-B analysis one has undertaken. The outer layer, the rim of the wheel, identifies seven policy categories that can support the delivery of these intervention functions.
Authors: Susan Michie, Lou Atkins & Robert West
To know more: www.behaviourchangewheel.com/about-wheel
From the authors:
One of the key objectives of the Behavioural Insights Team at its creation in 2010 was to spread the understanding of behavioural approaches across the policy community.
Alongside the policy work and trials conducted by the Team over the last three years, we have conducted many seminars, workshops and talks with policymakers, academics and practitioners.
From these many sessions, together with our trials and policy work, has emerged a simple, pragmatic framework: the EAST framework. EAST stands for Easy, Attractive, Social and Timely.
Though we do not claim that EAST is a comprehensive summary of all there is to know about behavioural science, we do think that for busy policymakers, the EAST framework is an accessible, simple way to make more effective and efficient policy.
Author: The Behavioural Insights Team, UK
From the authors:
Tools such as incentives and information are intended to change behaviour by “changing minds”. If we provide the carrots and sticks, alongside accurate information, people will weigh up the revised costs and benefits of their actions and respond accordingly. Unfortunately, evidence suggests that people do not always respond in this “perfectly rational” way.
In contrast, approaches based on “changing contexts” – the environment within which we make decisions and respond to cues – have the potential to bring about significant changes in behaviour at relatively low cost. Shaping policy more closely around our inbuilt responses to the world offers a potentially powerful way to improve individual wellbeing and social welfare. With this in mind, we set out nine of the most robust (non-coercive) influences on our behaviour, captured in a simple mnemonic – MINDSPACE – which can be used as a quick checklist when making policy.
Author: The Behaviour Insights Team UK
Know more at: https://www.bi.team/publications/mindspace/
The nudge concept was popularized in the 2008 book Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness. A nudge consists of two key concepts – Libertanian Paternalism and choice architecture.
A nudge is considered as a way to drive behaviour change in a predicatable way without limiting a user’s choices or by providing a financial incentive. Instead it focuses on creating a choice context in which the user chooses an option which is good for her.
Authors: Behavioral economist Richard Thaler and legal scholar Cass Sunstein
Know more at: https://www.amazon.in/dp/B009KERBQI/
From the author:
The Fogg Behavior Model shows that three elements must converge at the same moment for a behavior to occur: Motivation, Ability, and a Prompt. When a behavior does not occur, at least one of those three elements is missing.
The FBM highlights three principal elements, each of which has subcomponents. Specifically, the FBM outlines Core Motivators (Motivation), Simplicity Factors (Ability), and the types of Prompts.
Author: B J Fogg
Know more at: https://www.behaviormodel.org/
- BASIC is one framework which merges the process and intervention parts. It is driven by process but it also has interventions integrated at Solution stage
- The process-driven frameworks are not fully implementable on their own. These frameworks provide useful guidelines and steps but you need the help of an expert or an agency to actually implement these frameworks
- Most of the behavior change frameworks are focused on policy level interventions (such as BASIC), large scale behavior change (such as DECIDE or EAST) or self improvement (such as B=MAP). Except COMB, there are very few other behavior change frameworks which balance the depth with the width to make the framework useful in other situations also
- One of the biggest areas where behavior change or behavior design can be of immense utility is Product Development/Design as one of the key goals of a product manager is to design products which can engage and retain users. Except HOOK, there are a very few other frameworks which address this gap directly.
- This is also surprising from the perspective that bridging the decision-action gap is one of the fundamental aspects of behavior change frameworks. This decision-action gap is also one of the biggest unsolved issues in product design currently
If you want to know about all the possible behavior design frameworks, you should look at this book: ABC of Behaviour Change Theories, which covers 83 such theories in great detail (link).