Breaking Habits Using Implementation Intentions

  • Marieke A. AdriaanseEmail author
  • Aukje Verhoeven


In this chapter we discuss how, and under which conditions, implementation intentions can be used to overcome unwanted habits, with a focus on unhealthy eating habits. We will highlight the mechanisms by which implementation intentions are (in)effective in changing habits generally, as well as decreasing unwanted habits specifically. We will demonstrate that implementation intentions can be helpful to change habits, but also that there are several boundary conditions to their effectiveness, especially when they are applied to complex habits in the real world. We attempt to provide some useful guidelines for formulating effective plans and we will discuss potential solutions to deal with the limitations when applying implementation intentions in practical contexts. We elaborate on the usefulness of combining the formation of implementation intentions with other strategies, for example aimed at fostering insights into the cues triggering the habitual behaviour and establishing strong cue-response links. In this way, we hope to provide the reader with crucial information to maximally benefit from implementation intentions to break unwanted habits.


Habit Implementation intention Cue-monitoring Planning Eating/food 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Utrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands
  2. 2.University of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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