Predicting behavior from actions in the past: Repeated decision making or a matter of habit?

Henk Aarts, Bas Verplanken, Ad Van Knippenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

626 Citations (SciVal)


This paper summarizes research on determinants of repeated behaviors, and the decision processes underlying them. The present research focuses on travel mode choices as an example of such behaviors. It is proposed that when behavior is performed repeatedly and becomes habitual, it is guided by automated cognitive processes, rather than being preceded by elaborate decision processes (i.e., a decision based on attitudes and intentions). First, current attitude-behavior models are discussed, and the role of habit in these models is examined. Second, research is presented on the decision processes preceding travel mode choices. Based on the present theoretical and empirical overview, it is concluded that frequently performed behavior is often a matter of habit, thereby establishing a boundary condition for the applicability of attitude-behavior models. However, more systematic research is required to disentangle the role of habit in attitude-behavior models and to learn more about the cognitive processes underlying habitual behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1355-1374
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Applied Social Psychology
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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