Progress and prospects in habit research

Sheina Orbell, Bas Verplanken

Research output: Chapter or section in a book/report/conference proceedingChapter or section

9 Citations (SciVal)


Considerable progress has been made in clarifying theoretical understanding of habit. Research across diverse sub-disciplines including neuroscience, learning paradigms and social psychology has contributed to an understanding that habits are behaviours elicited by cues, and which may occur independently of goals or current motivational state. Cue dependence arises from behavioural repetition in the past and is represented in memory as a cue–response association. We draw together the different strands of this research to consider the relationship of habit to motivational state during development, enactment and suppression of habit. We consider the nature of habit measurement and call for greater attention to fundamental features of habit, namely cue dependence, history of repetition and goal independence. Finally we comment on the relationship of habit to its great antonym, willpower, and highlight the possible role of habit as a functional self-regulatory tool.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe psychology of habit
Subtitle of host publicationTheory, mechanisms, change, and contexts
ISBN (Electronic)9783319975290
Publication statusPublished - 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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