Fogg Behavior Model

The Fogg Behavior Model, developed by the Stanford University behavior scientist BJ Fogg, states that three elements must come together at the same time in order for a behavior to be performed. The elements are: motivation, ability, and a prompt.

This model reflects an inverse curve with motivation on the Y-axis and Ability on the X-axis. With an appropriate and well-timed trigger, a behavior can be performed when motivation is very high even if ability is very low, or when ability is very high and motivation is very low.

Behavior = Motivation x Ability x Prompt


Motivation is one of the most difficult elements to change. Fogg identified three core motivators, or underlying drives, in his model: sensation (physical), anticipation (emotional), and belonging (social).

Sensational: We seek pleasure and avoid pain

Anticipation: Our hopes and fears influence our emotions. According to

Fogg, hope is the most ethical and empowering motivator.

Belonging: We seek social acceptance and avoid social rejection

Fogg recommends starting by making the desired behaviour easier instead of starting with motivation. This brings us to ability.


Ability refers to how easily a specific behavior can be performed. Factors to consider when trying to increase the ability to perform a desired behavior include: time, money, physical effort, mental effort, social norms, and routine. The simpler the behavior, the higher one's ability to perform it.


A prompt is needed for the behavior to occur and generally must be noticed, associated with the target behavior, and well-timed (when we are both motivated and able to perform the behavior). The Fogg Behavior Model names three types of Prompts: Facilitator, Signal, and Spark. A facilitator makes a behavior easier (when motivation is high and ability is low), a signal acts as a reminder (when motivation and ability are both high), and a spark motivates behavior (when ability is high and motivation is low).

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