Resources for using Habit and ‘Hooked’ Theory in Product Development and Sprints

how to use habits and hook theory in product development

People check their phones 150 times every day. How can you use the theories behind this behavior in your product development? Hopefully for good, not evil purposes. 

Habits are defined as “behaviors done with little or no conscious thought.”

Nir Eyal’s book, Hooked – How to build habit forming products is the book I see more than any other when attending innovation and product development events, reading articles and listening to podcasts. If you haven’t read it, you should. Then you should get your team to ready it, so they are on the same page. There’s no guarantee for success, but I’m confident that your odds of success will increase significantly if you can utilize the theories Eyal writes about.

Before starting my second GV sprint I summarized the Hooked book, so I could share the key learnings with my team. In addition, I created Google forms for the to-do questions at the end of each chapter. We went over the theory on the first day, and then filled in the different forms. This helped us kickstart the creative phase, and helped us reach the goal for the second sprint: How can we make people change a bad behavior?

I’ve made a folder with a deck summarizing the Hook theory, and the Google forms to help you utilize what you learn. Feel free to use them, make sure to credit Nir Eyal, and to copy the forms and send them from your own account.

Nir’s model on building habits:

Hooked model, copyright Nir Eyal
Habit building model, copyright Nir Eyal – Hooked



Habits cannot form outside the Habit Zone, where the behavior occurs with enough frequency and perceived utility.


Triggers cue the user to take action. Triggers come in two types—external and internal. External triggers tell the user what to do next by placing information within the user’s environment. Internal triggers tell the user what to do next through associations stored in the user’s memory. Negative emotions frequently serve as internal triggers, although subtle. To build a habit-forming product, makers need to understand which user emotions may be tied to internal triggers and know how to leverage external triggers to drive the user to action.


To initiate action, doing must be easier than thinking. Three ingredients required to initiate any and all behaviors:

(1) the user must have sufficient motivation;
(2) the user must have the ability to complete the desired action;
(3) a trigger must be present to activate the behavior.



A study cited in the book revealed that what draws us to act is not the sensation we receive from the reward itself, but the need to alleviate the craving for that reward. Variable reward is the third phase of the Hook Model, and there are three types of variable rewards: the tribe, the hunt, and the self.


The investment phase concerns the anticipation of rewards in the future. Investments in a product create preferences because of our tendency to overvalue our work, be consistent with past behaviors, and avoid cognitive dissonance.


All humans are motivated to seek pleasure and avoid pain. To seek hope and avoid fear. To seek social acceptance and avoid rejection. Remember this.