BlueSpan Behaviors Preview

By the Stanford Behavior Wizard Team


An overview of BlueSpan behaviors and techniques for achieving them.

BlueSpan Behavior Overview

Blue span behaviorIf you want someone to perform a familiar behavior not forever but for a period of time, you are seeking a Blue Span Behavior.

Examples include:

  • Health: Eat vegetables at dinner for two weeks.
  • Environment: Bike to work each day for two months.
  • Commerce: Log into Farmville each day for the next six months.

To achieve a Blue Span Behavior, three elements must come together at once. over a period of time.  As the Fogg Behavior Model describes, you must Trigger the behavior when the person is both Motivated and Able to perform it.

  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.

Since success itself is motivating, it is most important to design the motivation-inducing elements of the BlueSpan strategy into the initial part of the intervention. Over time, as Blue Path Behaviors are created, people do not require reassurance (enhancing motivation) or step-by-step instructions (increasing ability).

Once the behavior has been performed at least once, it is necessary to remind the subject to perform the action — to Trigger the behavior — throughout the desired period’s duration. The challenge here is not motivation or ability but in timing:  One must find a way to deliver a Trigger consistently 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. In fact, technology solutions are often ideal for achieving Blue Span Behaviors.

Our Resource Guide for Blue Span Behaviors covers specific strategies, case studies, and existing solutions. For now, know that any intervention for Blue Span Behaviors must focus on motivating the subject and then delivering the Triggers, appropriate reminders at the appropriate times.

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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