Model Basics

B=MAP considers that there are 3 key factors that need to be present for any behaviour (B) to occur: motivation (M), ability (A), and prompts (P). The model proposes that when these three elements are present at any given time, the person is pushed above the ‘threshold’ for action to do the behaviour [6]. Motivation and ability are seen as trade- offs. So if motivation is high enough, people will overcome barriers in their ability and perform the behaviour. Conversely, if ability is high enough or the behaviour is very easy to do, people will perform the behaviour even if motivation is low. 

Motivation

In this model, Motivation refers to the underlying drives that get us to do something, which can be physical, emotional or social. 

- Physical motivation (sensation) speaks to the tendency for animals (including humans!) to behave in ways that lead to actual positive consequences and avoid actual negative consequences, or to seek for pleasure and avoid pain, whether physical or psychological. Sensation includes primitive and automatic drives (hunger, thirst, pleasure or pain). 

- Emotional motivation (anticipation) involves feelings of fear or hope. Fear relates to the anticipation of some negative consequence, often loss. Hope relates to the anticipation of positive consequences. 

- Belonging refers to the influence that others have on our behaviour. We tend to seek for social approval and try to avoid being socially rejected.

Ability

Ability in this model is less about skills and more about in-context capacity to carry out the behaviour, and it is directly related to how easy it is to do the behaviour. Specifically, ability is influenced by:

- time – how long it takes to do the behaviour 

- money – how expensive is it to do the behaviour 

- physical effort – how physically demanding is it to do the behaviour 

- mental effort – how mentally demanding is it to do the behaviour 

- social opportunityis the behaviour encouraged/discouraged by others

- habit/routine – is the behaviour part of an established routine. 

Prompt

Prompts refer to contextual cues that ultimately trigger the behaviour. There are 3 types of prompts depending on the person’s level of motivation and ability.

- Spark prompts raise motivation when levels are low. For example, by highlighting the benefits of doing the behaviour.

- Facilitator prompts raise ability, making it easier to do the behaviour by, for example, making it cheap and quick to do.

- Signal prompts work when motivation and ability are already present, but people need a reminder to act. For example, a green traffic light is not there to motivate you or increase your ability, it simply signals you to drive.

Model Strengths

✅ B = MAP focuses on identifying triggers to behaviour change and it offers guidance on how to best trigger behaviour based on someone’s motivation and ability.

✅ B = MAP is really easy to explain and understand, it comes with intuitive visuals and everyday language.

✅ B = MAP offers useful guidance on the aspects to consider when trying to simplify a product – how to make it easier for people to do use/do something.

Model Weaknesses

⛔️ The different components of B = MAT are defined rather vaguely, with the difference between some elements (for example, sensation and anticipation) not clearly operationalised.

⛔️ It is unclear how some of the claims surrounding the model (for example that people are generally resistant to learning or training) are supported by evidence.

⛔️ The model ignores reflective components of motivation, such as the role of attitudes and beliefs, which are relatively good predictors of behaviour [7–9].

Model Snapshot

Key takeaway

Behaviour change happens when motivation, ability and effective prompts converge at a given moment.  

When to use this model

When you need to identify how to trigger a behaviour change in-context.

What you get from this model

A tool to design executional solutions to trigger behaviour change in a specific context.

A guide to designing persuasive prompts based on the levels of ability and motivation. 

What you don’t get from this model

The B = MAP model is dependent on the levels of motivation and ability at a specific point in time to design effective prompts, so it is less suitable for broader behaviour change challenges.

Extra Resources

🧠 For a journal article on B = MAP and persuasive design read: A Behaviour Model for Persuasive Design

📢 For an introduction to B = MAP  from Dr BJ Fogg watch: BJ Fogg - How to think clearly about behaviour change

📚 For a detailed read on how to use B = MAP to create ‘tiny habits’ that stick get: Tiny habits

🧠 For a journal article on B = MAP and persuasive design read: A Behaviour Model for Persuasive Design

📢 For an introduction to B = MAP  from Dr BJ Fogg watch: BJ Fogg - How to think clearly about behaviour change

📚 For a detailed read on how to use B = MAP to create ‘tiny habits’ that stick get: Tiny habits