The Role of Habits in Maladaptive Behaviour and Therapeutic Interventions

  • Aukje Verhoeven
  • Sanne de WitEmail author


Habits prevent flexible behavioural adjustments when the consequences are no longer desirable or even harmful, and as such may play an important role in health-related behaviours but also in psychopathologies like substance abuse or obsessive-compulsive disorder. Furthermore, increasing evidence suggests that some people are more prone than others to act out of habit, and experimental research has linked this ‘habit propensity’ to certain psychopathologies. We will provide a review of recent research into maladaptive habits in health- and clinical psychology and suggest that these two fields can benefit from each other’s methodologies and insights. We will discuss the theoretical and practical implications for therapeutic interventions, and point out promising avenues for future investigations.


Dual-process theory Outcome-devaluation test Slips-of-action test Implementation intention Cognitive-behavioural treatment Habit propensity 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Clinical PsychologyUniversity of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Amsterdam Brain and CognitionUniversity of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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