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The three C's of designing a behavioural solution

Category: Blog & News

Bri explains that in order to overcome resistance to behavioural influence, you need to focus on:

  • Capacity
  • Clarity and
  • Confidence

A transcript is provided below.

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Today I thought I’d spend some time talking about solutions. For those of you familiar with the behaviour change model, my triangle model, know that in order to get people to take action, that might be clicking a button, turning up to work, performing, getting a supplier to negotiate in a particular way, whatever it happens to be, you have to get people from point A to point B.  Point A, what they’re currently doing, point B is what we would like them to do.  

Now, there are three things that stand in the way of that.  The first is Apathy.  They can’t be bothered.  The second is Paralysis.  They’re confused about what they need to do.  And the third is Anxiety.  They might be interested, they might know what they need to do, but they’re worried about proceeding.

So what do we do about each?  When it comes to Apathy, the trick is to give people the capacity to take the action.  Capacity has two strands.  The first is desire, or motivation.  What’s in it for me, why should I bother?  This is really about exploring what’s in it for them to take the action that you would like them to take.  But that’s not all, and the work of BJ Fogg has really informed my view of this.  

Motivation is not a stable state.  So yes, motivation might be up at some points, but it’s going to naturally dissipate.  You can spend a lot of time getting people motivated to take the action for that to naturally wind down over time.  Instead, the other strand that we need to focus on in terms of capacity is their capability.  How easy is it for them to take the action?  How capable are they of doing that action?  This is really about removing friction, removing unnecessary effort, undesirable effort.

When it comes to overcoming Apathy, it’s really about capacity.  When it comes to Paralysis, our role is really to give people clarity.  They need to be clear on what they need to do.  That means if we’re putting options forward, being concerned with how many options we put forward, we might sometimes have to constrain that, putting fewer options forward so that they have a clearer path to making a decision.  It can also mean telling them what other people have chosen for instance, if it’s appropriate, so they’re nudged towards a preferred option.  And there’s other things you can do in terms of how you represent the options, in terms of how you display them and put them forward. The role here for Paralysis is really giving people clarity about what they need to do.  

Now assuming they can be bothered, and they know what they need to do, the third road block is Anxiety; they’re worried about it. The role here is to give people confidence.  The confidence that taking the action means that they’re going to be better off.  Confidence has two strands also.  One is to give them nothing to fear if they do take the action, so I’m confident that if I take this action I’m going to be better off, but also something to fear if they don’t take the action.  They need to be confident that taking the action is better than not taking the action.  And that’s where loss aversion really plays out.  

So the three areas you need to concentrate on – providing capacity for the person to take the action, making sure they’re clear on what they need to do, and giving them the confidence that taking the action is the best path.