Understanding Habit Formation

Habit formation is the process by which new behaviors become automatic. If you instinctively reach for a cigarette the moment you wake up in the morning, you have a habit. By the same token, if you feel inclined to lace up your running shoes and hit the streets as soon as you get home, you've acquired a habit. Old habits are hard to break and new habits are hard to form. That's because the behavioral patterns we repeat most often are literally etched into our neural pathways. The good news is that, through repetition, it's possible to form—and maintain—new habits.

Recent posts on Habit Formation

Stop Trying to Break Bad Habits

By Madelyn Blair Ph.D. on September 18, 2017 in Resilient Leadership
If it is hard to break a habit, yet just as hard to create a new one, why not spend time creating new ones?

Conservatism Predicts Lapses Back to Meat Consumption

By Gordon Hodson Ph.D. on September 15, 2017 in Without Prejudice
Although those on the right eat more meat in general, some nonetheless attempt to quit. New research provides insights into why they may struggle.

How to Find Happiness Where You Least Expect It

By Rob Kendall on September 13, 2017 in Blamestorming
Research shows that we pay a heavy price for mind-wandering and rumination.

Opioid Addiction: Is This a War We Can Win?

Those who are familiar with “recovery from addiction” know that solving the crisis requires action. The battle lines are clear; it’s time to take a stand.

Upscale “Shop ‘til You Drop” is for Poor Extraverts

By Kevin Bennett on September 05, 2017 in Modern Minds
Why do low-income extraverts spend more on "high status" luxury goods compared to low-income introverts? New research shows how status-shopping interacts with personality.

Anxiety Makes Us Perform Better

By Nick Hobson Ph.D. on September 05, 2017 in Ritual and the Brain
Feeling the pang of performance anxiety? It's okay, your brain can benefit from feeling negative emotion.
Flickr

How to Get Better at Achieving Your Goals

Setting goals is, at its core, about behavior change.
flickr via pexels

Give Sleep a Chance

As modern life increasingly disrupts nighttime sleep, it's really useful to nap.

The Empty Seat Problem

This common error known to pilots reveals one our mind's most dangerous flaws. Find out what it takes to avoid it.

What You Need to Know About L-theanine

By Michael J Breus Ph.D. on August 29, 2017 in Sleep Newzzz
Are you looking for ways to sleep better at night while also feeling relaxed during the day?

Overwhelmed with the Busy Back-to-School Pace?

Don't let the crazy back-school-pace wear you down. With a quick Life as Pie exercise you can create some delicious slices of peace, quiet, and calm in your day.

Are Simple Behavioral Interventions Cost Effective?

By Art Markman Ph.D. on August 23, 2017 in Ulterior Motives
Governments, nonprofits, and companies all try to influence people’s behavior. They do that in lots of ways. How should behavioral science play a role in this influence?
Lapina/Shutterstock

Why Some Grown Women Sound Like Girls

By Deborah Grayson Riegel MSW on August 13, 2017 in Speak Easy
Up-speak, breathiness and sing-songy voices are costing women their professional credibility. Here's why.

How Over-Learning can Solidify a Skill

Can practicing a skill beyond the point of mastery solidify it in memory? Study suggests it can, and that neural inhibition might prevent interference by another task.

What Graduate Students Need to Know (and What Nobody Says)

The perfect is the enemy of the good. You can rewrite, you can revise, you can refine, but the first thing you have to do is write.

Bring Back Confession

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on August 03, 2017 in Ambigamy
It's useful to calmly inventory your bad habits, not that they're going to change overnight.

Focused Distractions? How We Adapt to Multi-Tasking

“Don’t distract me, I am multitasking”: Distractions can be damaging, but even when multi-tasking, we learn how to focus on what is important.

New Strategy and Overdue Resource to Combat Medical Errors

American employers must help eliminate medical errors, but how can we get them to do it?
Google

Want to Change an Important Habit?

By Gretchen Rubin on July 12, 2017 in The Happiness Project
Do you want to make a significant change in your life? Or help someone else to make an important change?

Don't Let Safety Advice Fall on Deaf Ears

Can you name two important factors that affect whether people will follow safety advice?

Mattering and Morphing

Do you have trouble understanding your own and others' minds in their full complexity?

13 Easy Ways to Be Happy Every Day

Does happiness elude you? Well, it starts with your daily habits.

How to Make a Positive Difference at Work

How to Make a Positive Difference at Work Put on your listening ears.

Five Keys to a Happy Body and a Healthy Weight

Forget diets. If you want to lose weight and keep it off, you need a strategy that will stand the test of time.

Do You Reward Yourself in Ways that You Later Regret?

How do you prefer to reward yourself, or celebrate? Indulgent foods, spending and alcohol may feel good in the moment, yet can leave a trail of regrets in their wake.

How We Can Become Better People Through Teamwork with Dogs

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on June 28, 2017 in Animal Emotions
A new book stresses the importance of humans and dogs growing together as a team and benefits for both.

Our Worst Angels: Inconvenient Psychological Truths, Part 1

By Noam Shpancer Ph.D. on June 22, 2017 in Insight Therapy
What might rappers, gender studies academics, and abusive parents have in common?

Why Posted Prices Are Often Meaningless

There’s a significant gap between asked-for prices and what customers actually pay.
By Sanjay Acharya (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 Wikimedia Commons

New Thinking Required: Oil, Cars, and Walking

By Shane O'Mara D.Phil. on June 19, 2017 in The Interrogated Brain
Cars changed us. How will we change cars?

Commitment and How To Grow It

Having the assurance that the commitment in the relationship is strong and sturdy provides a large playing field to struggle with the essential issues that every couple must face.