BluePath Behaviors Preview

By the Stanford Behavior Wizard Team


An overview of BluePath behaviors and techniques for achieving them.

BluePath Behavior Overview

Blue Path BehaviorIf you want someone to perform a familiar behavior for the long term, you are seeking a Blue Path Behavior.

Examples include:

  • Health: Drink two bottles of water each day from now on.
  • Environment: Take public transportation around San Francisco from now on.
  • Commerce: Buy Apple computers from now on.

BluePath designates a familiar behavior that is done from now on.

All of us have developed many BluePath behaviors in our lives: brushing teeth, checking email, shopping for food, reading the newspaper, and so on. These lifelong habits are Blue Path Behaviors.

BluePath Behaviors are the most valuable of all 15 behavior types. Health, happiness, and wealth come from the right set of BluePath Behaviors.

On the commercial side, any company that can create a BluePath Behavior in their customers will most likely profit.

Example: Using the iPhone

Consider how effective Apple has been in getting people to carry about their iPhone device and use it daily. The value of such a BluePath behavior is enormous, and (we think) only partially shown in the surge in Apple’s stock price.

The real value for Apple will continue to play out for decades to come, because BluePath behaviors are not easily broken. Do you know anyone who has stopped using their iPhone? We don’t. A Blue Path behavior (like carrying the iPhone) that has a deep investment will endure more than thoses with a small investment.

Example: Search with Google

Most Internet users today use Google when they search the Internet. This is a BluePath Behavior. Google won this leading position by offering a simple experience that gave good results. People got hooked on Google because their search box offered the easiest way to get what they wanted — big benefits at low cost. This position is now being challenged by Bing. Who will win? Google must maintain the BluePath behavior. Bing’s challenge is greater: Because they are new to people, they are seeking a GreenPath Behavior, and that’s harder to achieve.

Example: Use Facebook every day

The most amazing example of BluePath Behavior in today’s world is Facebook. Hundreds of millions now log into this service on a regular basis. It has become part of our lives, part of our culture — all in a few short years.

If you want to learn how to create a BluePath Behavior in your customers or yourself, learn from what Facebook has done.

You can find an analysis of Facebook’s system for creating BluePath Behavior here:

Routes to Blue Path Behaviors

What’s clear with Blue Path Behaviors is that they don’t happen suddenly. In most cases, there’s a sequence of steps, or a route, that people take on their way to Blue Path. Sequencing is vital to understand for those creating interventions. If the intervention focuses on a single step, it’s likely to fail. The best Blue Path programs start with a simpler goal.

Example: Nutrisystems for the rest of your life

The business goal of Nutrisystems is to get people to eat the Nutrisystem food for the rest of their lives. You can imagine how profitable this Blue Path Behavior can be. But the company smartly doesn’t push for this first thing. The winning route for Nutrisystems starts with a Green Dot Behavior. The next step is Green Span. And the final step is Blue Path.

Stanford’s Laura Shact has analyzed the route for making Nutrisystems a Blue Path Behavior:

Example: Getting addicted to FourSquare

One of the hottest location-based services to date is FourSquare. The company has succeeded in creating Blue Path Behaviors in many people. “Checking in” at a location has become as routine for some as checking email. While the social element and incentive structure (badges and titles) boost motivation, the key to FourSquare’s success is in the careful sequencing of the experience, moving users from trial phase (Green Behaviors) to addiction (Blue Path).

Stanford’s James Mao analyzes the route users take as FourSquare (aka 4sq) becomes an integral part of their daily lives.

Example: How coffee becomes a habit

Kristy Allenby, from Stanford’s GSB, outlines how coffee becomes a habit, noting how this sequence can also apply to forming other Blue Path Behaviors:

Example: Day-by-day steps toward Blue Path

Stanford’s Stephanie Carter maps out how a Blue Path Behavior gets formed, day by day, using as the example. The entire slide set is interesting, and the last four slides are brilliant with insight. Don’t miss out.


To achieve a Blue Path Behavior, three elements must come together at once.  As the Fogg Behavior Model describes, you must Trigger the behavior when the person is both Motivated and Able to perform it. This combination must happen over and over, as the habit gets created or strengthened.

  1. Trigger: A prompt must tell a person to “do this behavior now.” 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. Motivation: A person must have sufficient Motivation when the Trigger occurs. Three core motivators exist: Sensation (pleasure/pain), Anticipation (hope/fear), and Belonging (acceptance/rejection)
  3. Ability:  The person must have the Ability to perform the behavior when the Trigger occurs.

As Blue Path Behaviors are created, people do not require reassurance (enhancing motivation) or step-by-step instructions (increasing ability). Instead, the challenge is on timing: One must find a way to deliver a Trigger at a moment when the person is already Motivated and Able. This timing issue is well know: “Timing is everything.” The Ancient Greeks called this timing issue Kairos. In today’s world, technology is getting better at timing such Triggers, as we outline in the Resource Guide.


Our full Resource Guide for Blue Path Behaviors has more examples, techniques and additional routes for achieving this valuable goal. In fact, of the 15 behavior types,  we’ve found Blue Path to be so important, it is the primary focus of our Stanford Lab’s work right now. Our full Resource Guide will explain you can create health, happiness, and wealth by being smart about designing for Blue Path Behaviors. Join us in this journey! We’re learning lots and having fun.

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


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