Advertisement

Progress and Prospects in Habit Research

  • Sheina Orbell
  • Bas Verplanken
Chapter

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Cue Context Repetition Automaticity Motivation Self-control Habit measures 

References

  1. Aarts, H. (2007). Health and goal-directed behaviour: The nonconscious regulation and motivation of goals and their pursuit. Health Psychology Review, 1, 53–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Abelson, R. P. (1981). Psychological status of the script concept. American Psychologist, 36, 715–729.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Adams, C. D. (1982). Variations in the sensitivity of instrumental responding to reinforce devaluation. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology Section B, 34, 77–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Adriaanse, M., Gollwitzer, P. M., De Ridder, T. D., de Wit, J. B. F., & Kroese, F. M. (2011). Breaking habits with implementation intentions: A test of underlying processes. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 37, 502–513.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Adriaanse, M., Kroese, F. M., Gillebaart, M., & De Ridder, D. T. D. (2014). Effortless inhibition: Habit mediates the relation between self-control and unhealthy snack consumption. Frontiers in Psychology, 5, 444.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Adriaanse, M., Kroese, F., Weijers, J., Gollwitzer, P., & Oettingen, G. (2018). Explaining unexplainable food choices. European Journal of Social Psychology, 48, O15–O24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Azrin, N. H., & Nunn, R. G. (1973). Habit-reversal: A method of eliminating nervous habits and tics. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 11, 619–628.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bargh, J. A. (1994). The four horsemen of automaticity: Awareness, intention, efficiency, and control in social cognition. In R. S. Wyer & T. K. Srull (Eds.), Handbook of social cognition (Vol. 1, pp. 1–40). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  9. Bargh, J. A., & Chartrand, T. L. (2014). The mind in the middle: A practical guide to priming and automaticity research. In H. T. Reis & C. M. Judd (Eds.), Handbook of research methods in social and personality psychology (pp. 253–285). New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Dijksterhuis, A., & van Knippenberg, A. (2000). Behavioral indecision: Effects of self-focus on automatic behavior. Social Cognition, 18, 55–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Ersch, K. D., Lim, T.-V., Ward, L. H. E., Robbins, T. W., & Stochl, J. (2017). Creature of habit: A self-report measure of habitual routines and automatic tendencies in everyday life. Personality and Individual Differences, 116, 73–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Galla, B. M., & Duckworth, A. L. (2015). More than resisting temptation: Beneficial habits mediate the relationship between self-control and positive life outcomes. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 109, 508–525.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Gardner, B., Abraham, C., Lally, P., & de Bruijn, G.-J. (2012). Towards parsimony in habit measurement: Testing the convergent and predictive validity of an automaticity subscale of the self-report habit index. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 9, 102.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gardner, B. (2015). A review and analysis of the use of ‘habit’ in understanding, predicting and influencing health-related behavior. Health Psychology Review, 9, 277–295.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. George, C. M., Biswas, S., Jung, D., Perin, J., Parvin, T., et al. (2017). Psychosocial factors mediating the effect of the CHoBI7 intervention on handwashing with soap: A randomized controlled trial. Health Education and Behavior, 44, 613–625.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Gillan, C. M., Otto, A. R., Phelps, E. A., & Daw, N. D. (2015). Model-based learning protects against forming habits. Cognitive, Affective & Behavioral Neuroscience, 15, 523–536.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Gollwitzer, P. M. (1993). Goal achievement: The role of intentions. European Review of Social Psychology, 4, 141–185.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Gollwitzer, P. M. (1999). Implementation intentions: Strong effects of simple plans. American Psychologist, 54, 493–503.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Graybiel, A. M., & Smith, K. S. (2014). Good habits, bad habits. Scientific American, 310, 38–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hofmann, W., Baumeister, R. F., Forster, G., & Vohs, K. D. (2012). Everyday temptations: An experience sampling study of desire, conflict, and self-control. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 102, 1318–1335.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Imhoff, R., Schmidt, A. F., & Gerstenberg, F. (2014). Exploring the interplay of trait self-control and ego depletion: Empirical evidence for ironic effects. European Journal of Personality, 28, 413–424.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Itzchakov, G., Uziel, L., & Wood, W. (2018). When attitudes and habits don’t correspond: Self-control depletion increases persuasion but not behavior. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 75, 1–10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. James, W. (1887). The laws of habit. The Popular Science Monthly, 31, 433–451.Google Scholar
  24. Ji, M. F., & Wood, W. (2007). Purchase and consumption habits: Not necessarily what you intend. Journal of Consumer Psychology (Lawrence Erlbaum Associates), 17, 261–276.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Lehéricy, S., Benali, H., Van de Moortele, P. F., Pélégrini-Issac, M., Waechter, T., et al. (2005). Distinct basal ganglia territories are engaged in early and advanced motor sequence learning. PNAS, 102, 12566–12571.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Lin, P.-Y., Wood, W., & Monterosso, J. (2016). Healthy eating habits protect against temptations. Appetite, 103, 432–440.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Marteau, T. M., Hollands, G. J., & Kelly, M. P. (2015). Changing population behaviour and reducing health disparities: Exploring the potential of ‘Choice Architecture’ Interventions. In R. M. Kaplan, M. L. Spittel, & D. H. David (Eds.), Population health: Behavioral and social science insights. AHRQ Publication No.15-002 (pp. 105–126). Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research Quality and Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research, National Institutes of Health.Google Scholar
  28. Miles, E., Sheeran, P., Baird, H., Macdonald, I., Webb, T. L., & Harris, P. R. (2016). Does self-control improve with practice? Evidence from a six-week training program. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 145, 1075–1091.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Mittal, B. (1988). Achieving higher seat belt usage: The role of habit in bridging the attitude-behavior gap. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 18, 993–1016.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Neal, D. T., Wood, W., & Drolet, A. (2013). How do people adhere to goals when willpower is low? The profits (and pitfalls) of strong habits. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 104, 959–975.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Neal, D. T., Wood, W., Labrecque, J. S., & Lally, P. (2012). How do habits guide behaviour? Perceived and actual triggers of habits in daily life. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 48, 492–498.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Neal, D. T., Wood, W., Wu, M., & Kurlander, D. (2011). The pull of the past: When do habits persist despite conflict with motives? Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 37(11), 1428–1437.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Orbell, S., & Phillips, S. A. (in press). Automatic processes in illness self-regulation. Health Psychology Review. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/17437199.2018.1503559
  34. Orbell, S., & Sheeran, P. (1998). ‘Inclined abstainers’: A problem for predicting health behaviour. British Journal of Social Psychology, 37, 151–166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Orbell, S., & Verplanken, B. (2010). The automatic component of habit in health behavior: Habit as cue-contingent automaticity. Health Psychology, 29, 374–383.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Orbell, S., & Verplanken, B. (2015). The strength of habit. Health Psychology Review, 9, 311–317.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Ouellette, J. A., & Wood, W. (1998). Habit and intention in everyday life: The multiple processes by which past behavior predicts future behavior. Psychological Bulletin, 124, 54–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Phillips, L. A., & Gardner, B. (2016). Habitual exercise instigation (vs. execution) predicts healthy adults’ exercise frequency. Health Psychology, 35, 69–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Rossi, M. A., & Yin, H. H. (2012). Methods for studying habitual behavior in mice. Current Protocols in Neuroscience, 60, 8.29.1–8.29.9.Google Scholar
  40. Sheeran, P., Godin, G., Conner, M., & Germain, M. (2017). Paradoxical effects of experience: Past behavior both strengthens and weakens the intention-behavior relationship. Journal of the Association of Consumer Research. Published online 17th April 2017.  https://doi.org/10.1086/691216.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Skinner, B. F. (1938). The behavior of organisms. New York: Appleton.Google Scholar
  42. Tricomi, E., Balleine, B. W., & O’Doherty, J. P. (2009). A specific role for posterior dorsolateral striatum in human habit learning. European Journal of Neuroscience, 29, 2225–2232.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Verplanken, B., Aarts, H., van Knippenberg, A., & van Knippenberg, C. (1994). Attitude versus general habit: Antecedents of travel mode choice. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 24, 285–300.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Verplanken, B., & Faes, S. (1999). Good intentions, bad habits, and effects of forming implementation intentions on healthy eating. European Journal of Social Psychology, 29, 591–604.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Verplanken, B., Friborg, O., Wang, C. E., Trafimow, D., & Woolf, K. (2007). Mental habits: Metacognitive reflection on negative self-thinking. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92(3), 526–541CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Verplanken, B., & Orbell, S. (2003). Reflections on past behavior: A self-report index of habit strength. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 33, 1313–1330.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Verplanken, B., & Roy, D. (2016). Empowering interventions to promote sustainable lifestyles: Testing the habit discontinuity hypothesis in a field experiment. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 45, 127–134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Verplanken, B., Walker, I., Davis, A., & Jurasek, M. (2008). Context change and travel mode choice: Combining the habit discontinuity and self-activation hypotheses. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 28, 121–127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Verplanken, B., & Wood, W. (2006). Interventions to break and create consumer habits. Journal of Public Policy and Marketing, 25, 90–103.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Watson, P., & de Wit, S. (2018). Current limits of experimental research into habits and future directions. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, 20, 33–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Webb, T. L., & Sheeran, P. (2006). Does changing behavioral intentions engender behavior change? A meta-analysis of the experimental evidence. Psychological Bulletin, 132, 249–268.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Wood, W., & Rünger, D. (2016). Psychology of habit. Annual Review of Psychology, 67, 11.1–11.26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Wood, W., Tam, L., & Witt, M. G. (2005). Changing circumstances, disrupting habits. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 88(6), 918–933.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Yin, H. H., & Knowlton, B. J. (2006). The role of the basal ganglia in habit formation. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 7, 464–476.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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

Personalised recommendations