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How to change behaviour with a simple formula (B=MAP)

Nudging behaviour is both simple and challenging.

While on one hand we are all individuals with a unique makeup of personality, preferences, habits and experiences, our brains can be influenced in predictable ways.

One such way is by having temporal convergence of three factors, meaning three things need to happen at the same time to create a behaviour.

This formula is B=MAP

Where B is for behaviour, M for motivation, A for ability, and P for prompt.

This formula was created by noted Stanford behavioural psychologist BJ Fogg.

Basically, it means that motivation, ability and a prompt need to happen simultaneously in order for a behaviour to occur.

Let's take the example of exercising.


The motivation to exercise needs to exist, e.g. you need to want to be fitter.

This could come from a motivation of pain or pleasure, hope or fear, or social acceptance or rejection. You're motivation to be fitter could be to want to fit into that wedding dress or summer swimsuit, because you want to feel happy about your strong body, because you want to have energy for your kids, and so on. Motivations can be traced back to the root of the spectrum of pain or pleasure, whether it be physical, social, mental, or within yourself.


You need to have the ability to exercise. Ability is defined by having the perceived time, money, physical effort, mental effort to do it. The more the behaviour requires non-routine effort and deviation from social norms, the harder it is.

In our example, you need to have the time to go for a run, you need a pair of running shoes, and you need to know how to run.


Sometimes also called 'trigger', something needs to give you a nudge to do the behaviour. This could be a reminder, like your 6am alarm to go for a run, a friend that shows up at your house to run with you.

If any of these three is lacking, the behaviour is less likely to occur.

For example, if you break your foot, you no longer have the ability to run, so the behaviour won't occur.

Behaviour change in the workplace using B=MAP

This model is simple enough to be memorable and provides a useful lens to view behavior change in an organisation. Gamification for team behaviours can provide one or more of these three components and thereby result in behavioural change.

For some people, having a gamified workplace experience is quite motivating due to the opportunity to interact playfully with their peers or out of motivation to show progress and achievement. In this case, gamification is adding to the motivation.

Gamification can also provide the ability to do the behaviour. Take for example our gamification platform for teams. The behaviour of professional development can be challenging for employees when they are unsure what professional development activities they can or should do. The gamified platform makes this really clear and easy to access, thereby providing them with an increased ability to do the behaviour.

And finally, gamification is a great prompt. Most people have an inherent desire (motivation) to learn and develop further, but view the effort as too great (ability). Gamification here provides the trigger that is a tipping point for the behaviour, and so professional development behaviours occur.

When creating behavioural change in your team or context, B=MAP provides a usefully simple way to view behaviour.

If you want to discuss a behavioural or engagement challenge with one of our behavioural or gamification experts, get in touch at

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