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3 laws of human behaviour # 3

We’ve previously presented the first 2 of 3 laws of human behaviour, which present a simple yet useful way to view human behaviour change.

Law # 1 is our bias towards the status quo, and the need to create more incentive or desirability of the new behaviour to overcome this bias.

Law # 2 is that behaviour is both person and environment and both need to be considered and modified when changing behaviour.

Law # 3 Every decision has consequences

The final law of behaviour is that every decision has consequences, in the form of trade-offs, unintended consequences, and externalities.

Trade-offs come in the form of opportunity costs. If I have $15 to spend on lunch, I cannot use the same $15 for a month of subscription service. So by choosing A, I miss out on B. Unintended consequences come in the form of unanticipated effects of our decision and behaviour, which can be both positive or negative. And externalities are the effects our behaviour has on others, again this can be either positive or negative.

When applying these laws to change behaviour in the workplace or real-world context, Law #1 (Status Quo bias) and #2 (behaviour is a function of person and environment) provide us with clear actions. Law #3 is less actionable in a behavioural change implementation but does provide a useful reminder that behaviour is complex and especially so in a workplace or social setting. So when implementing behaviour change, whether it be through gamification or another approach, you must be aware that there will be additional effects and consequences, some of which will be unanticipated.

Working with an experienced behavioural scientist or gamification designer can help you navigate these complexities and ensure that your behaviour change program is successful.

To speak with one of our experienced behavioural designers, get in touch at

Illustrations by Matt Trower

For the full article by Aline Holzwarth, click below.

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