Progress and Prospects in Habit Research

  • Sheina Orbell
  • Bas Verplanken


Considerable progress has been made in clarifying theoretical understanding of habit. Research across diverse sub-disciplines including neuroscience, learning paradigms and social psychology has contributed to an understanding that habits are behaviours elicited by cues, and which may occur independently of goals or current motivational state. Cue dependence arises from behavioural repetition in the past and is represented in memory as a cue–response association. We draw together the different strands of this research to consider the relationship of habit to motivational state during development, enactment and suppression of habit. We consider the nature of habit measurement and call for greater attention to fundamental features of habit, namely cue dependence, history of repetition and goal independence. Finally we comment on the relationship of habit to its great antonym, willpower, and highlight the possible role of habit as a functional self-regulatory tool.


Cue Context Repetition Automaticity Motivation Self-control Habit measures 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sheina Orbell
    • 1
  • Bas Verplanken
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of EssexEssexUK
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of BathBathUK

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