Model Basics

The Behavioural Drivers Model (BDM) is a broad framework to inform social and behaviour change initiatives. The framework summarises evidence from existing theories to diagnose and analyse what drives people’s behaviour. It proposes 3 main components under which drivers of behaviour can be categorised: psychology, sociology, and the environment. Under each of these components, the behavioural drivers are organised in 2 levels of granularity: factors and dimensions. Factors are general areas of influence on behaviour, whereas dimensions are specific subcomponents within these general areas [13]. 

In this model, psychology (in green) refers to a person’s cognitive and emotional drivers. Specifically, it considers that the main psychological factors driving someone’s behaviour are cognitive biases, interests, attitudes, self-efficacy, intent and limited rationality. These factors are influenced by a person’s personal characteristics. Sociology (in red) refers to how our relationships with significant others and with the broader society drive our behaviour. Social influence, community dynamics, and meta-norms are the main factors driving behaviour within sociology. The Environment (in blue) involves structural elements, such as institutions, policies, system and the broader infrastructure. Factors from psychology, sociology and the environment are also influenced by the context where the behaviour takes place.

Although the model focuses on individual behaviour, it explicitly acknowledges the essential role of social and structural factors in enabling or constraining people’s behaviour. In doing so, it aims to avoid over-focusing on one driver of behaviour (e.g. emotional drivers) whilst ignoring other drivers that might be equally important (e.g. institutional barriers).

To add an extra level of detail, each of the factors within the BDM can be further unpacked into more detailed dimensions. For example, the BDM suggests that the main dimensions underlying cognitive biases, one of the factors that drives behaviour within psychology, are information avoidance, availability heuristics, anchoring, messenger effects, confirmation & belief bias, simplicity biases, recency bias, optimism bias, the representativeness heuristic, cognitive dissonance and memory biases. In total, once all the dimensions within each of the factors are unpacked, the model synthesises over 130 evidence-based drivers of behaviour. 

The BDM also offers a guide to intervention mapping, where each behavioural factor is systematically linked to several possible approaches to change it. 

Model Strengths

✅ BDM recognises that behaviour is influenced by individual but also broader structural factors, which allows for a comprehensive approach to behaviour change. 

✅ BDM is rigorous and evidence-based.

✅ By mapping readily usable interventions to each factor, BDM is a very actionable tool for practitioners. 

Model Weaknesses

⛔️ BDM doesn’t contain specific guidelines or prompts to help the user identify where a barrier falls within the different factors and dimensions of the model. 

⛔️ BDM assumes that all behavioural drivers have the same empirical weigh, research would still be needed to determine the relevance of the different factors and dimensions on an individual-case basis

⛔️ Although BDM was not created with a specific area in mind, it is oriented towards NGO-related work.

Model Snapshot

Key takeaway

Psychology, sociology and the environment are the main drivers of behaviour. Drivers of behaviour can be diagnosed and analysed at a more general (factors) or granular level (dimensions).   

When to use this model

When you need to diagnose barriers and map them to potential behaviour change interventions. 

What you get from this model

A diagnostic tool to identify the main drives and barriers to behaviour and map them to potential interventions

What you don’t get from this model

The BDM is a useful tool to ensure that all drivers to behaviour are considered when designing an intervention, but it still needs to be combined with knowledge and insights.

Extra Resources

🧠 For a long read on the BDM and a detail description of each driver (factors and dimensions) of behaviour and intervention read: The Behavioural Drivers Model

🧠 For a long read on the BDM and a detail description of each driver (factors and dimensions) of behaviour and intervention read: The Behavioural Drivers Model