Old habits die hard: Travel habit formation and decay during an office relocation

Ian Walker, Gregory O. Thomas, Bas Verplanken

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Workers at a pro-environmental charity in the United Kingdom were evaluated 19 months before the organization moved its headquarters to another town, and then evaluated again 1 and 4 weeks after the move. Travel habit (behavioral automaticity) weakened immediately after the move, and this was equal for those who changed travel mode during the relocation and those who did not. In those who changed mode, habit strength for the old mode did not disappear abruptly but rather decayed over the post-move period, whereas habit strength for the new mode grew concurrently. This demonstrates that even when overt behavior changes during a transition event, the underlying behavioral automaticity does not disappear immediately. Rather, there is a period during which habit for the new behavior becomes established and habit for the old behavior decays. Practical implications of these findings are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1089-1106
Number of pages18
JournalEnvironment and Behavior
Issue number10
Early online date15 Sept 2014
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2015


  • Habit
  • Discontinuity
  • Travel-mode choice
  • Automaticity
  • Behavior change
  • pro-environmental behavior


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