Behavior design

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"Behavioral" Building Blocks

Root Solutions has developed an easily understood, practical behavior design process. The heart of this process is our essential “Behavioral Building Blocks” each made up of time tested behavioral interventions.


Key point: Environmentalists have long understood the value of rewarding positive environmental behaviors or penalizing detrimental behaviors. By attaching benefits and/or disincentives to specific behavioral outcomes, we can catalyze action or help to reinvigorate pre-established goals.

Make it EASY

Key point: Any kind of barrier to action, whether mental or physical, discourages us from a behavior. Making it easy involves removing barriers to desired actions and erecting barriers to deleterious actions, while employing defaults to promote favorable actions. These strategies together are quite powerful, as they make environmentally friendly behavior virtually effortless.


Key point: Hopelessness leads to avoidance and inaction. In order to feel motivated, we need to be confident that we have the ability to positively affect our planet and that our efforts actually make a difference.

Frame for the appropriate ASSOCIATIONS

Key point: We process each piece of new information we receive through our pre-existing values, beliefs, and experiences. Framing messages to better fit our mental models can influence message uptake, agreement, and willingness to act.

Design it to be VIVID

Key point: Because we are constantly bombarded by information, effective calls to action need to stand out, be original and vividly capture attention!

Encourage consistent IDENTITY

Key point: We care about our identity and how others perceive us. Therefore, we are intrinsically motivated to match our beliefs to our behaviors, and will exert effort to do so.

Demonstrate what is ORDINARY

Key point: As busy individuals making thousands of choices a day, we save time by modeling our choices off of the values, expectations, and practices of our community, neighbors, and friends. What is normal, or ordinary, is a powerful driver of human behavior.

Craft it to be RELATABLE

Key point: We care about things more when they relate to our own lives—this tendency affects our capacity to conceptualize large numbers or plan for the future. By aligning our message with what our audience cares about, we can reduce the gap between the individual and the environmental problem, and better engage our audiences to act.


Key point: We want groundbreaking change, but we often move through the day on auto-pilot, compromising our environmental principles with thoughtless actions. Mindful awareness offers us the power to make conscious decisions in line with our environmental goals. By learning to practice awareness and impart our wisdom onto our audiences, we can foster and sustain behavior change.

Construct it to be LASTING

Key point: Although many one-time behavioral interventions can reap lasting benefits to the environment, environmental advocates can also support long-term behavioral change by helping our audiences build and shape habits surrounding environmentally friendly actions.