BlackPath Behaviors Preview

By the Stanford Behavior Wizard Team


An overview of BlackPath behaviors and techniques for achieving them.

BlackPath Behavior Overview

black path behaviorIf you want someone to stop a behavior for the long term, you are seeking a Black Path Behavior.

Examples include:

  • Health: Stop smoking permanently.
  • Environment: Never throw trash out the car window.
  • Commerce: Don’t buy anything at Walmart ever again.

A Black Path is the permanent cessation of a behavior. This is the holy grail of public health, as effective anti-smoking and anti-fast-food initiatives have the potential to change the health of entire nations.

Because the behaviors being stopped are usually negative, and often addictive, the Black Path is one of, if not the, hardest behavior types to induce.

To achieve a Black Path Behavior, we must remove or diminish one of the variables in the Fogg Behavior Model.

  1. Remove the trigger: If the prompt telling the subject to “do this behavior now” is missing, it will not occur. Triggers can take many forms, ranging from links in email (click here) to internal signals from our body, like a grumbling stomach (eat now).
  2. Reduce the Motivation: A person must have sufficient Motivation when the Trigger occurs. If they are not motivated, the behavior will not occur. Three core motivators exist: Sensation (pleasure/pain), Anticipation (hope/fear), and Belonging (acceptance/rejection)
  3. Reduce the Ability:  The person must have the Ability to perform the behavior when the Trigger occurs. If the task is made harder to perform, or interfered with in some other manner, it is less likely to occur.

Our Resource Guide for Black Path Behaviors explains specific techniques and tools for stopping a behavior indefinitely. It also highlights successful programs and online systems that exist for this purpose.

About Resource Guides

Our Stanford team created these Resources Guides to help people working on behavior change projects. We can make it easier for you to:

1. Learn about a specific type of behavior change

2. Create solutions for achieving that behavior

In the past, most designers and researchers guessed at solutions for changing behavior. And frankly most attempts failed. Today, rather than guessing at solutions, people who use our Resource Guides will have clear guidance.

Our Stanford team will continue to improve each of the 15 Resource Guides.  We welcome your input.

BJ Fogg, Ph.D. (
Director, Persuasive Tech Lab @ Stanford University



The Behavior Guides were created in 2010 and we are no longer updating or selling them.

There is still lots of useful information in these guides. If you’re interested in obtaining a specific guide, please email us ( and let us know in which guide you’re interested and why. We may be able to share a copy with you.

We hope you’ll also benefit from our more recent behavior design projects at:

–BJ Fogg, Ph.D. (
Director, Persuasive Tech Lab @ Stanford University


To view a sample guide, please fill out the form below.