What is The Hook Model of Behavioural Design?

A hook model is a user engagement tool or framework. Its goal is to ensure that a person participates in an activity or interacts with a product regularly.

In other words, it’s a set of tools that designers may employ to create something addictive or habit-forming. The paradigm combines behavioural theory, motivational theories, and habit formation theories, notably the Habit Loop.

Think of Instagram Reels, YouTube shorts, and Tiktok videos; they all want you to stick to their app and keep checking new content. This is an example of applying the hook model in the real world.

In the world of social media and gaming, the hook model is extremely prevalent. Part of the goal of goods in these sectors is to keep customers interested. This is necessary to keep “eyes on screen” so that advertising may be targeted at them.

How Does the Hook Model Work?

Four stages are depicted on the Hook canvas. Trigger, action, changeable reward, and investment are the four elements. These steps are part of a continuous engagement cycle. The Habit Loop is made up of three components: trigger, action, and reward.


Triggers are a wake-up call. People are motivated to act by internal ideas, external circumstances, or stimuli. They either remind individuals of prior activities they’ve taken or alert them of fresh possibilities for action and involvement. Triggers include notifications from social media networks, for example. Each message is intended to prompt a certain response. Most of the time, they cause the necessary application to open and interact with it.

There are two types of triggers:
External Triggers: These are cues in the user’s environment that prompt them to take action. They can be in the form of notifications, emails, or calls to action.
Internal Triggers: These are mental cues triggered by emotions or thoughts. Users might have an internal trigger, like boredom or loneliness, that prompts them to engage with a product.


The action is the behaviour taken by the user in response to a trigger. It should be as simple and easy as possible for the user to perform the desired action. Making actions frictionless increases the likelihood of users taking them. The idea of triggers in the habit development loop is quite similar to that of cues. However, the word trigger connotes greater control and intention than cues. This is acceptable since addictive items are created with triggers in mind.

Variable Reward

The action is the very least you want a consumer to do to engage with your brand and purchase your goods. Often, all that is necessary is to open an application and look it over. It can be to communicate with it or convey a message to it. The goal of product designers is to reduce as much friction as possible from the action process. Quick action is easier for a consumer to execute when time, effort, and cost are taken into account. The probability that they will do so rises as a result.

It’s important to note that many of these products depend on advertising for revenue. The activity’s main objective is often to entice participants to examine displays so that relevant advertising might be offered. The reward is what the user receives in exchange for performing the action. Traditional behaviours provide for a range of rewards, including pleasure from the body. However, with digital products, rewards related to social proof (being recognised by others), mastery (becoming better at things), and hunting (finding things/getting discounts) are frequent.

The majority of products are made to generate varied rewards. Because ambiguity is more addicting than certainty, this is the case. Individuals are less inclined to behave if they know what benefits they will receive rather than if they are uncertain. When we don’t know what rewards we’ll get, there’s always the possibility that we’ll get a big one, which keeps us interested.


In order to improve their degree of commitment and increase the likelihood that they would use the product again, the last stage invites customers to spend time, effort, data, money, etc. into it. This investment improves the user experience overall and makes it more difficult for people to move to competing products. The more users get involved, whether via time, effort, or anything else, the more they get attached to the product. The likelihood that they will continue to interact with it as a result increases. In other words, it contributes to the product’s addictiveness.

Important Considerations When Using the Hook Model

The extent to which a business can use a hook model to create habit-forming technology will increasingly determine whether goods and services succeed or fail. Without the need for marketing, communications, or other external stimuli, habit-forming technology establishes connections with “internal triggers” that prompt users.

Associating internal triggers is accomplished by assembling the four components of a “Hook” – a trigger, an action, a variable reward, and an investment. Consumers must grasp how habit-forming technology works in order to avoid undesired manipulation while yet benefiting from these advancements.

Businesses must grasp the mechanics of habit development in order to boost user engagement with their goods and services and eventually assist consumers in developing positive routines.

Advantages of using the Hook Model

There are several advantages to using the Hook Model in the design of products and services:

Habit Formation: The Hook Model helps create habits by establishing a behavior loop that encourages repeated engagement. By creating triggers, making actions easy, providing rewards, and fostering investment, products can become part of users’ daily routines.

Increased User Engagement: By designing products that tap into users’ internal triggers and provide a variable reward system, the Hook Model helps keep users engaged over long periods. This increases user retention and time spent on the product.

Improved User Experience: The Hook Model focuses on making actions simple and easy for users to perform. By reducing friction and cognitive load, it enhances the overall user experience and makes it more likely for users to engage with the product.

Competitive Advantage: By leveraging the principles of psychology and habit formation, companies that effectively apply the Hook Model can gain a competitive edge in their industry. They can build loyal customer bases that consistently engage with their products.

Revenue Generation: Habit-forming products have the potential to generate recurring revenue streams as users continue to engage with them over time. This can be through subscriptions, in-app purchases, or other monetization strategies.

Behavioural Insights: Applying the Hook Model necessitates understanding user psychology and behaviour patterns deeply. This allows designers to gain valuable insights into their target audience’s needs and preferences, leading to more informed decision-making regarding product development and iteration.

Behaviour Change: Beyond habit formation, the Hook Model can be applied to facilitate positive behaviour change by creating triggers that prompt desired actions and providing appropriate rewards. This can be particularly useful in applications like fitness and health-related apps.

It is important for designers and product teams to use the Hook Model responsibly and ethically, considering the potential impact on users’ well-being and avoiding manipulative practices.

Disadvantages of using the Hook Model

While the Hook Model can be an effective tool for increasing user engagement and habit formation, there are some potential disadvantages to consider:

Manipulation and Ethical Concerns: The Hook Model relies on understanding human psychology to influence behavior. This raises ethical concerns about intentionally manipulating users’ thoughts and actions, potentially leading to addictive or unhealthy behaviours.

Lack of User Autonomy: The Hook Model’s purpose is to drive user engagement by creating habits, which may limit users’ freedom of choice and autonomy over their own behaviours.

Potential for Burnout: Constantly triggering and rewarding users can lead to a sense of fatigue or burnout. Overusing the Hook Model without considering the well-being of users may result in negative consequences, such as reduced enjoyment or disengagement with the product.

Dependence on External Triggers: The Hook Model relies heavily on external triggers to prompt users to act, which means that the behaviour loop may become unsustainable if these triggers are removed or become ineffective over time.

Limited Scope of Applicability: The effectiveness of the Hook Model varies across different industries and products. It may not work equally well for all types of services or products, depending on factors such as target audience, user motivations, and market dynamics.

It is important for designers and businesses to carefully consider these potential disadvantages when implementing the Hook Model and ensure that they prioritize user well-being and ethical considerations throughout the design process.

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Hi, My name is Kartik. I have expertise in Technical and Social Domains. I love to write articles that could benefit people and the community.

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