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Behavior Change Design Primer

Teaching UX students the fundamentals of behavior change design.

Guest lecture on behavior change design for Boston’s General Assembly User Experience Design Course.

This lecture served as students’ introduction to behavior change design, so I embedded activities to give students a chance to work through key concepts, including selecting desired outcomes, prioritizing target behaviors, and identifying barriers.


Individual behavior is central to addressing many social challenges, from health to sustainability to equity. Designers often use objects, products, or services to try to change people’s behavior for the better, such as educational campaigns, fitness trackers, or meditation apps, to name a few. However, these designs often don’t produce the intended results, especially in the complex systems that contribute to social impact challenges.

Behavior change design is an approach that integrates scientific evidence with traditional design methods to increase the chances that the final design will result in meaningful, measurable changes in behavior and positive outcomes. In this lecture, you’ll learn the central concepts of behavior change design, common misconceptions about behavior change and “nudging”, and what types of projects most benefit from a behavior change approach.

Click image below for full presentation (58 slides).