In his book, Atomic Habits, James Clear explains a four-step loop that controls all human behavior: cue, craving, response, and reward. When it’s repeated, it creates a feedback loop which leads to the formation of habits.
If you want to create a new habit, you’ll need to understand Clear’s Four Laws of Behavior Change which correlate to each step of the loop so you can easily implement the habit. They are as follows:
- Cue: Make it obvious.
- Craving: Make it attractive.
- Response: Make it easy.
- Reward: Make it satisfying.
Let’s apply these behavior changes to business to gain a better understanding of how they’ve been put into practice around us.
The First Law: Make it obvious
A cue will grab your attention and tell you what to do next. This can make some advertising feel intrusive — loud, bright, or eye-catching ads. Think of the notifications that appear on your phone — a new text message or an email about the release of a new product which implores you to open it. The opposite of this is also true, a behavior that isn’t as obvious is less likely to occur. The unsubscribe button in an email is typically small and all the way at the bottom. Products in the store placed lower than eye level are much less likely to be purchased. If it’s not the desired behavior, it will be less obvious.
The Second Law: Make it attractive
The craving is the prediction in your mind — the why behind a purchase. Being attracted to make a purchase can come in many forms, reading reviews that point toward a better experience or choosing a beverage based on which you perceive will taste the best. Clearly articulated benefits of a product can make it attractive enough to purchase. Personalization also contributes to attraction. When shopping online, many retailers will recommend what you should purchase next based on previous purchases. Email subject lines with your name in them make you feel the company is directly addressing you. You’re not buying a product; you’re buying an attractive experience.
The Third Law: Make it easy
This is the response, or the actual behavior or habit that you perform. When they’re easier to carry out, they’re more likely to be done. Most companies will do this effectively by removing barriers or friction associated with the task.
Grocery delivery services have removed the hassle of having to drive to the store, pick out your items, stand in line, and deal with parking lots and other people. Now you can grocery shop from your home, and have it delivered to your door at a frequency that aligns with your lifestyle. It’s now an easy task that takes much less effort.
The Fourth Law: Make it satisfying
The final stage in the loop is the reward, and the reason we repeat the behavior in the future. The more satisfying, the more likely the habit will be repeated. How quickly you receive the reward is also a factor in encouraging habitual behavior.
A cup of coffee that tastes delicious and increases feelings of alertness almost immediately is likely to be consumed daily. The instant feeling of clean, fresh breath helps make brushing your teeth a regular activity. The more satisfying the reward, the more likely the behavior will become a habit.
When embarking on the mission of building a new habit, remember the feedback loop: cue, craving, response, and reward. Keep in mind the Four Laws of Behavior Change — make it obvious, make it attractive, make it easy, make it satisfying — and you’ll be on your way to enforcing your new habit in no time.
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Written by Rachel Strysik