Many climate-relevant behaviours are habitual. Habits are memory-based propensities to respond automatically to specific cues, acquired by repetition of behaviours in stable contexts. Socio-cognitive models are widely used to predict climate-relevant behaviours; but by positing behaviour as intentional, provide a poor account of habitual behaviours. While unsustainable habits are barriers to change, their very features (frequency and resistance to change) also make them desirable for sustainable behaviours to obtain. While informational approaches are generally ineffective for breaking habits; legislation, incentives, ‘nudges’, implementation intentions, competitions, and ‘moments of change’ (e.g., moving house) are more effective. Linking behaviour to identity and a stable context can ensure new habits endure. Psychological theories and policy efficacy can be greatly improved by attention to habits.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42-46
JournalCurrent Opinion in Behavioral Sciences
Early online date18 Mar 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Mar 2021


  • Climate Change
  • Pro-Environmental Behaviour
  • Habit
  • Behaviour Change
  • Habit Discontinuity Hypothesis
  • Self-Identity

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