What Drives Behavior? It’s Your M-A-P: Mini-Segment #1, Behavior Management Series

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

Would you like to learn about a tool throwing light on human behavior, if it would make it easier to understand both your own behavior and that of others? How about if it will also show you how to change behavior for the better?

Much of the behavior we do every day is routine and automatic. Have you ever left home on a day off and, without thinking about it, gone in the direction of your workplace, even though that isn’t where you intended to go? That’s because taking your customary route to work when you leave home has become automatic. It’s a habit. You do it without thinking about it.

In this series we’ll focus on habitual behaviors. Think about it. Do you sometimes think about behaviors you’d like to build as habits? Are there some behaviors among your habits that you’d like to stop?

Yes? This series will provide an explanation of human behavior that is far simpler than most of us anticipate. I bet you’ll discover that you can successfully manage your behavior, probably better than you thought you could.

We’ll begin with a quick description using a wonderful tool I discovered some time ago. The wonderful tool is called the Fogg Behavior Model, created by Brian Jeffrey Fogg, PhD. In less than 2 minutes the video below will outline the model, which is rooting in your M-A-P.

You’ll quickly see how using this tool provides a systematic, reliable method to explain and enable human behavior, including making behavior changes. If you’re intrigued, watch the video and read on.

Video – BJ Fogg, PhD – YouTube Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P0Dpi4KbW4g

Now we’ll move through the model using the following image from the video:

On the B=MAP graphic Fogg drew in the video, we observed the three elements of Behavior: Motivation, Ability and Prompt.

The video drawing shows 2 dimensions: Motivation and Ability. Look at the left, vertical axis first. It’s Motivation, and it can range anywhere from high (at the top of the axis) to low (at the bottom of the axis).

The low, horizontal axis is Ability, and it runs anywhere from hard to do (the left end) to easy to do (the right end).

An additional example: Let’s say you want someone to donate to an animal shelter. If they have high motivation and if it’s easy for them to do, they will be at the upper right corner of the model. When someone located there gets a Prompt to donate to the animal shelter, they will do the donation behavior.

On the other hand, if their motivation to donate is low, and donating is hard for them to do, they will be at the low left corner of the model. In this situation, when the get a prompt to donate to the animal shelter, they will not do the behavior.

Now, let’s look at the Action Line, the curved line. The Action Line shows how Motivation and Ability join forces to determine behavior.

If someone is anywhere above the Action Line, they will do the behavior when prompted; in our example they will donate to the animal shelter.

But, if they are below the Action Line, they will not do the behavior when prompted; in our example, they will not donate to the animal shelter. If someone is below the Action Line we need to get them above it if we want them to do the behavior. Either the motivation must increase or the behavior needs to be easier for them to do, or both.

What makes something hard to do or easy to do? An individuals’ lack of or possession of required skills, knowledge, time, other competing commitments, money and other factors can make it hard or easy for that person to do a behavior.


Fogg’s model applies to all human behavior. When Motivation, Ability and a Prompt come together at the same time, the person will be above the Action Line and the behavior will occur.

When motivation is not high enough and/or the behavior is not easy enough to do, the three elements cannot come together effectively. The person will be below the Action Line and the behavior will not happen. It’s as simple as that.

Our Mini-Segment Series on Behavior is the result of studying and applying Fogg’s work, in addition to that of other sources, combined with our coaching experience. We’re convinced that these creative, new perspectives and tools will be invaluable in helping people to strengthen job performance and achieve their goals.

What’s Next?

This is the first Mini-Segment in a series. Mini-segment #2 will describe how to establish a desirable new behavior or, as Fogg terms it, a tiny habit. These mini-segments will include how to inspire one-time behaviors, behaviors you want to repeat over a specific span of time, and long-term behaviors you want to do from now on. There will be a mini-segment on how to stop a habit, as well. Mini-tools will be provided to help you to apply the model in your own life.

Between now and next time, your mission, which will be fun and enlightening, is to observe, to look at behavior — your own and that of others. Watch, reflect and see how Motivation and Ability converge with Prompts, to impact behavior.

Please share your comments on this first step in our series on Behavior. Tell me, did it surprise you?

Sources/Recommended Reading:

Image source: Pinterest

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