Skip to main content

Habit Formation Dynamics: Finding Factors Associated with Building Strong Mindfulness Habits

Part of the Communications in Computer and Information Science book series (CCIS,volume 1421)


Mindfulness is widely recognized as an effective technique for managing mental and physical health. However, a significant challenge remains when attempting to transform its practice into a habit. To understand the individual characteristics and contexts that correlate with habit formation experiences, we conducted a six-week observational study involving 62 participants who planned to adopt a new mindful breathing habit. Overall, 47.4% (N = 1,234) of daily surveys were completed and 41 participants completed the post-study survey. Using a growth curve modeling framework, we confirm the presence of significant overall change in habit automaticity across participants in the first 21 days of habit practice. Furthermore, we identify four factors that are significantly correlated with the gradient of participant habit formation trajectories: how committed a participant is to building the habit before starting the practice period, their prior mindfulness experience, and two dimensions of personality – agreeableness and emotional stability.


  • Habit formation
  • Health behavior change
  • Well-being
  • Mindfulness
  • Growth curve modeling
  • Observational study

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Buying options

USD   29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-78645-8_44
  • Chapter length: 9 pages
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
USD   89.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • ISBN: 978-3-030-78645-8
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
Softcover Book
USD   119.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Fig. 1.


  1. 1.

    Behavioral frequency and identity also relate to the notion of habit strength. However, we do not assess these concepts given: i) our study introduces bias on behavioral frequency by asking participants to practice the habit daily, and ii) related work cites disagreements in using identity as a measure of habit strength [11, 19].

  2. 2.

    We use the maximum likelihood (ML) estimation algorithm in R’s nlme package [14].


  1. Bargh, J.: The four horsemen of automaticity: awareness, intention, efficiency, and control in social cognition (1994)

    Google Scholar 

  2. Bollen, K., Curran, P.: Latent Curve Models: A Structural Equation Perspective. Social Forces 467 (2006).

  3. Clapp, J., et al.: Modeling trajectory of depressive symptoms among psychiatric inpatients: a latent growth curve approach. J. Clin. Psychiatry 74, 492–499 (2013).

  4. Creswell, J.D.: Mindfulness interventions. Ann. Rev. Psychol. 68, 491–516 (2017).

  5. Curran, P., Obeidat, K., Losardo, D.: Twelve frequently asked questions about growth curve modeling. J. Cogn. Dev. 11, 121–136 (2010).

  6. Galla, B., Duckworth, A.: More than resisting temptation: beneficial habits mediate the relationship between self-control and positive life outcomes. J. Pers. Soc. Psychol. 109 (2015).

  7. Gardner, B.: A review and analysis of the use of ‘habit’ in understanding, predicting and influencing health-related behaviour. Health Psychol. Rev. 9(3), 277–295 (2015)., pMID: 25207647

  8. Gardner, B., Rebar, A.L.: Habit formation and behavior change (2019).

  9. Hofmann, S.G., Sawyer, A.T., Witt, A.A., Oh, D.: The effect of mindfulness-based therapy on anxiety and depression: a meta-analytic review. J. Consult. Clin. Psychol. 78(2), 169–183 (2010).

  10. King, K.M., Littlefield, A.K., McCabe, C.J., Mills, K.L., Flournoy, J., Chassin, L.: Longitudinal modeling in developmental neuroimaging research: common challenges, and solutions from developmental psychology. Dev. Cogn. Neurosci. 33, 54–72 (2018).

  11. Lally, P., van Jaarsveld, C.H.M., Potts, H.W.W., Wardle, J.: How are habits formed: modelling habit formation in the real world. Eur. J. Soc. Psychol. 40(6), 998–1009 (2010).

  12. McCrae, R.R., Costa Jr., P.T.: The five-factor theory of personality. In: Handbook of personality: theory and research. 3rd ed., pp. 159–181. The Guilford Press, New York (2008)

    Google Scholar 

  13. Neal, D.T., Wood, W., Quinn, J.M.: Habits - a repeat performance. Curr. Dir. Psychol. Sci. 15(4), 198–202 (2006).

  14. Pinheiro, J., Team, R.C.: nlme: linear and nonlinear mixed effects models. R Package Version 3(4), 109 (2006)

    Google Scholar 

  15. Schöne, B., Gruber, T., Graetz, S., Bernhof, M., Malinowski, P.: Mindful breath awareness meditation facilitates efficiency gains in brain networks: a steady-state visually evoked potentials study. Sci. Reports 8(1), 13687 (2018).

  16. Stephanidis, C., et al.: Seven HCI grand challenges. Int. J. Human-Comput. Interac. 35(14), 1229–1269 (2019).

  17. Tennant, R., et al.: The Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-being Scale (WEMWBS): development and UK validation (2007).

  18. Torous, J., Kiang, M.V., Lorme, J., Onnela, J.P.: New tools for new research in psychiatry: a scalable and customizable platform to empower data driven smartphone research. JMIR Mental Health 3(2), e16 (2016).

  19. Verplanken, B., Orbell, S.: Reflections on past behavior: a self-report index of habit strength. J. Appl. Soc. Psychol. 33, 1313–1330 (2003).

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Robert Lewis .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

Copyright information

© 2021 Springer Nature Switzerland AG

About this paper

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this paper

Lewis, R., Liu, Y., Groh, M., Picard, R. (2021). Habit Formation Dynamics: Finding Factors Associated with Building Strong Mindfulness Habits. In: Stephanidis, C., Antona, M., Ntoa, S. (eds) HCI International 2021 - Posters. HCII 2021. Communications in Computer and Information Science, vol 1421. Springer, Cham.

Download citation

  • DOI:

  • Published:

  • Publisher Name: Springer, Cham

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-030-78644-1

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-030-78645-8

  • eBook Packages: Computer ScienceComputer Science (R0)