PurpleDot Behaviors Preview

By the Stanford Behavior Wizard Team


An overview of PurpleDot behaviors and techniques for achieving them.

PurpleDot Behavior Overview

Purple dot behaviorIf you want someone to increase the intensity or duration of a behavior not forever but just one time, you are seeking a Purple Dot Behavior.

Examples include:

  • Health: Exercise for 30 minutes longer for today only.
  • Environment: Buy more produce at the store today, instead of meat.
  • Commerce: Put 50% of your paycheck into savings, just for this one paycheck.

Purple Dot Behaviors can stretch people. And that’s often the point. By pushing limits people can get insight and confidence into increased performance in exercise, savings, diet, or other areas. In some ways, the purpose of a Purple Dot Behavior is to help people eventually increase the target behavior for a longer period of time. In other cases, these more extreme behaviors can focus our attention on an issue, cause, or opportunity.

Purple Dot Behaviors as cultural tradition

Some of our most celebrated holidays encourage Purple Dot Behaviors. On Christmas Day, for example, people are more charitable. On Valentine’s Day, people are more expressive of love. On Thanksgiving, we emphasize our gratitude. The emphasis during these holidays is no accident. These holidays help us all learn to perform the more extreme behaviors. That’s a good thing. Ideally, the increased intensity in charity, love, and gratitude will carry with us to the other days of the year. In this way, we can see that holidays are cultural interventions that make society better. From this perspective it seems that some holidays are all about behavior change.

Purple Dot Behaviors also play a role in self-improvement programs, as well as charitable events and commercial endeavors.

Purple Dot Behaviors for charity

Purple Dot Behaviors can take us to the extremes, and this gets people’s attention. Charity programs have tapped into this fact. Notable interventions that invite ordinary people to go to extremes for a good cause include:

More general classes of Purple Dot Behaviors for good causes include:

Purple Dot Behaviors for business

Businesses have long used Purple Dot Behaviors for profit. And in today’s high tech world, the possibilities continue to expand.


To achieve a Purple Dot Behavior, it is necessary to alter at least one element from the Fogg Behavior Model:

  1. Couple the trigger leading to the desired behavior with a motivational element.
  2. Increase ability to perform the behavior (make it easier to do)
  3. Strengthen motivation for doing the behavior with appropriate intrinsic or extrinsic awards.

Our Resource Guide for Purple Dot Behaviors explains specific techniques and tools for achieving increasing the intensity of a behavior one-time. 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. (bjfogg@stanford.edu)
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 (behaviorwizard@gmail.com) 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: http://captology.stanford.edu.

–BJ Fogg, Ph.D. (bjfogg@stanford.edu)
Director, Persuasive Tech Lab @ Stanford University


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