Habit Change and the HAPIfork

At the Persuasive Technology Lab at Stanford University, Dr. BJ Fogg and his students have spent over a decade furthering our understanding of how technology can help us modify our habits. The Fogg Behavior Model looks at behavior change very simply:

Behavior =  Motivation + Ability +Trigger

Fogg Behavior Model

Fogg Behavior Model

In other words, you have to want to change a habit, changing the habit needs to be possible for you to do (ability), and then you have to have something that prompts you to make the change (the trigger).  Motivation becomes secondary and even inconsequential if the ability, trigger and intended behavior are engineered just right.  The tinier the behavior the more likely it will done.

What have we found to be the most important variable? The trigger! People change when they have a “Hot Trigger”  — that call to action that prompts them when they’re exactly in the moment and the place to make the change.

The HAPIfork is a good example of helping people change a behavior by making the trigger for change happen exactly at the moment when they need to make the change. You want to eat slower (that’s the motivation). You CAN eat more slowly; nothing is preventing you from doing so. But you have to concentrate and actually change the behavior. That needs both increased ablity and a trigger. The HAPIfork provides both ability and trigger when it vibrates: “Wait a moment before you eat that next bite.”

There are many things I noticed about the HAPIfork – the first being it’s FUN! In fact, it is like you’re able to play a game with yourself. It can be either discreet or playful – no one knows if I’ve eaten too quickly…. but if I am with the right dining companion we can laugh when I make a mistake. Because you know, it is funny!

And never discount the importance of fun and play in behavior change.  It reframes what we’re trying to do from one of success/failure to play/play again.

I noticed two other things as I ate my salad with the Hapifork.  It brought back sensuality to eating.  What I mean is, it engaged my senses.  – I noticed the texture and the taste and the smell of the greens, dressing, walnuts, goat cheese and bell peppers.  The corollary to sensuality was of being fully present.   If ever there was a technological aid to mindful eating, this is it.

But most importantly, it changes my behavior in a tiny way at exactly the moment I need to make a change. This is what we know is effective. I’m happy that this tool is available for those people who want to change this behavior, and looking forward to the encores!


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