Habit formation

Research has found that most habits are driven by three elements




The trigger is a cue that signals us to start the routine, then comes the action of the habit itself. The reward is the positive feeling we get from having done the action and helps to reinforce the habit. Repetition of a trigger-reward cycle (i.e. doing the activity over and over again), is the final key to creating a habit.

Trigger: Wall calendar

Trigger: Project Sammaan tested one cue – a Sammaan wall calendar that was provided households in our project sites. A wall calendar is a commonly used household item that is often put up in areas of the home for everyone to see. Repeatedly and automatically looking at the Project Sammaan calendar every day can serve as a cue to households, the first step in forming the habit of using a toilet instead of defecating in the open.

Reward: Hygiene faucet

Reward: Another step in the habit formation process is a psychological reward for performing the desired behavior. The reward in our study was access to a hygiene sprayer in the toilet stall. This will serve as a reward for using the toilet, as it is expected to create a higher feeling of personal cleanliness (compared to cleaning with water and one’s hand).

Repetition: Discount vouchers

Repetition: We tested whether pricing discount interventions provided in the first 45 days of operations would encourage repetition of use of toilet facilities as a means to create a habit loop. There were different types of discounts provided: One voucher group could use the facilities for free on all days at any time, a second group could use on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for free during peak hours, and a third group did not receive any discount. After 45 days, all households paid the same price.