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Habits—A Repeat Performance

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Habits are response dispositions that are activated automatically by the context cues that co-occurred with responses during past performance. Experience-sampling diary studies indicate that much of everyday action is characterized by habitual repetition. We consider various mechanisms that could underlie the habitual control of action, and we conclude that direct cuing and motivated contexts best account for the characteristic features of habit responding—in particular, for the rigid repetition of action that can be initiated without intention and that runs to completion with minimal conscious control. We explain the utility of contemporary habit research for issues central to psychology, especially for behavior prediction, behavior change, and self-regulation.

Keywords: automaticity; behavior change; behavior prediction; goals; habit; motivation; self-regulation

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8721.2006.00435.x

Affiliations: Duke University

Publication date: August 1, 2006

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