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What is the Hook model?

The Hook model is a behavioral design framework used by companies to hook users and make them form certain habits. It has four steps:

Hook Model

After user go through all four stages of this model, they associate the product with relief - this is when a habit is formed.


Triggers are of two types:

  • External
  • Internal

External triggers are the ones that users feel and sense in the environment around them and learn to associate actions with them, e.g., a message tone attracts attention

There are 4 types of external triggers:

  1. Paid - these are marketing-centered triggers to attract new customers and increase website traffic, e.g., notifications and emails sent by companies to grab attention.

  2. Earned - these keep the product in everyone’s attention, so users spend more time on the website, e.g., viral videos, press mentions, etc.

  3. Relationship - these are social influences that increase the product outreach, e.g., social influence, word of mouth, referral codes, etc.

  4. Owned - these already exist in the user’s world, and it is the user’s discretion if they accept them, e.g., an icon on the phone screen, newsletter the user has subscribed to, etc.

Internal triggers are described as the “root cause of forming habits”. These manifest automatically in our minds, leading us to perform actions such as using a social media site or text someone.


This is the behavior you want your users to perform, such as attending a call, subscribing to a channel, logging in, etc. All the actions to achieve a goal make up an activity, e.g., the user opens the website, browses and adds products to the cart, enters delivery details (list of actions), and completes checkout to place an online order (activity). According to B.J Fogg’s Behavioural Model, the following are integral to an action being performed:

  • ability - you log in to an app because you have the credentials and a phone.
  • motivation - you log in to an app because you need some information from there.
  • trigger - there is a notification that prompts you to log in.

Variable reward

A reward is the positive consequence of a user’s action that makes the user happy. When the reward is such that it makes us want more rewards and lead to us performing the action more because of its variable nature, it is called variable reward. The variable nature adds an element of anticipation and curiosity to the reward.

There are three types of rewards:

  1. Rewards of the self - these are intrinsic rewards such as performing well in a game that gives self-satisfaction

  2. Rewards of the hunt - these are rewards associated with material things that we hunt, such as winning a lucky draw or hunting for good discounted deals on a shopping website.

  3. Rewards of the tribe - these satisfy the human being’s desire for belonging to a community, e.g., Facebook community. These are the reason why users return to apps that promote a community feeling.


Investment is the effort (time, energy, personal information provided) spent to perform the actions on a product. The commitment users feel towards the product increases as the level of investment increases. This is a critical point. This is where users become hooked.

Hook’s model is integral to habit-formation. It can also be used in other areas such as user research, etc.



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