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The third step, he says, is the reward: something that your brain likes that helps it remember the "habit loop" in the future. Interview Highlights On breaking habits "What we know from lab studies is that it's never too late to break a habit. The difficult thing about studying the science of habits is that most people, when they hear about this field of research, want to know the secret formula for quickly changing any habit. Individuals and habits are all different, and so the specifics of diagnosing and changing the patterns in our lives differ from person to person and behavior to behavior. The MIT researchers in Chapter One discovered a simple neurological loop at the core of every habit, a loop that consists of three parts: A cue, a routine and a reward. As an example, let’s say you have a bad habit, like I did when I started researching this book, of going to the cafeteria and buying a chocolate chip cookie every afternoon. But every afternoon you manage to ignore that note, get up, wander towards the cafeteria, buy a cookie and, while chatting with colleagues around the cash register, eat it. To figure out which cravings are driving particular habits, it’s useful to experiment with different rewards. On the first day of your experiment, when you feel the urge to go to the cafeteria and buy a cookie, adjust your routine so it delivers a different reward. As you test four or five different rewards, you can use an old trick to look for patterns: After each activity, jot down on a piece of paper the first three things that come to mind when you get back to your desk.
By experimenting with different rewards, you can isolate what you are actually craving, which is essential in redesigning the habit. Once you’ve figured out the routine and the reward, what remains is identifying the cue. About a decade ago, a psychologist at the University of Western Ontario tried to answer a question that had bewildered social scientists for years: Why do some eyewitnesses of crimes misremember what they see, while other recall events accurately? Dozens of studies have examined this phenomena, trying to determine why some people are better eyewitnesses than others. But the importance of this experiment is that those same tapes had been watched by dozens of other researchers. Once the psychologist decided to focus on only three categories of behavior, however, and eliminate the extraneous information, the patterns leapt out.
When you automatically turn your car left while driving to work, what triggers that behavior? To identify a cue amid the noise, we can use the same system as the psychologist: Identify categories of behaviors ahead of time to scrutinize in order to see patterns.
Three days in, it was pretty clear which cue was triggering my cookie habit – I felt an urge to get a snack at a certain time of day. In the prologue, we learned that a habit is a choice that we deliberately make at some point, and then stop thinking about, but continue doing, often every day.
Put another way, a habit is a formula our brain automatically follows: When I see CUE, I will do ROUTINE in order to get a REWARD. Get instant access to exclusive videos, study guides and resources for Smarter Better Faster and The Power of Habit.
Slideshare uses cookies to improve functionality and performance, and to provide you with relevant advertising. Written by award-winning New York Times journalist Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habit takes us through the latest scientific discoveries to explain why habits exist, and how they could be changed in order to transform our personal lives, as well as businesses and communities. Duhigg´s book can be applied to a lot of fields, and I think that it is a good read for anyone that is working with communication, marketing and advertising.
The Power of Habit Summary contains the key concepts from the book about how habits are created and how to replace old habits with new ones. December 19, 2014 I just tweeted it – nothing popped out to download it…?? Understanding and interrupting that loop is key to breaking a habit, says journalist Charles Duhigg.

Duhigg says there are studies that show organizational habits form among workers working for the same company.
If scientists have discovered how these patterns work, then it stands to reason that they must have also found a recipe for rapid change, right? Giving up cigarettes is different than curbing overeating, which is different from changing how you communicate with your spouse, which is different from how you prioritize tasks at work. Rather, I hoped to deliver something else: a framework for understanding how habits work and a guide to experimenting with how they might change. Each chapter in this book explains a different aspect of why habits exist and how they function. Once you have diagnosed the habit loop of a particular behavior, you can look for ways to supplant old vices with new routines.
For instance, instead of walking to the cafeteria, go outside, walk around the block, and then go back to your desk without eating anything.
They can be emotions, random thoughts, reflections on how you’re feeling, or just the first three words that pop into your head. Researchers theorized that some people simply have better memories, or that a crime that occurs in a familiar place is easier to recall.
She wondered if researchers were making a mistake by focusing on what questioners and witnesses had said, rather than how they were saying it. She saw that witnesses who misremembered facts usually were questioned by cops who used a gentle, friendly tone.
Perhaps it was because, subconsciously, those friendship cues triggered a habit to please the questioner.
The reason why it is so hard to identify the cues that trigger our habits is because there is too much information bombarding us as our behaviors unfold. You can change to a better routine by planning for the cue, and choosing a behavior that delivers the reward you are craving. This book is a framework for understanding how habits work and a guide to experimenting with how they might change. And companies themselves exploit habit cues and rewards to try to sway customers, particularly if customers themselves can't articulate what pleasurable experience they derive from a habit. But we also know that the best way to change a habit is to understand its structure a€” that once you tell people about the cue and the reward and you force them to recognize what those factors are in a behavior, it becomes much, much easier to change." On his bad habits "I felt like I had a lot of habits that I was powerless over. The framework described in this appendix is an attempt to distill, in a very basic way, the tactics that researchers have found for diagnosing and shaping habits within our own lives.
In fact, let’s say this habit has caused you to gain exactly 8 pounds, and that your wife has made a few pointed comments. When the Febreze marketing team discovered that consumers desired a fresh scent at the end of a cleaning ritual, for example, they had found a craving that no one even knew existed. The next day, go to the cafeteria and buy a donut, or a candy bar, and eat it at your desk.
The point is to test different hypotheses to determine which craving is driving your routine.
Just as Mandy, the nail biter in Chapter 3, carried around a note card filled with hash marks to force her into awareness of her habitual urges, so writing three words forces a moment of attention. If, fifteen minutes after eating a donuts, you still feel an urge to get up and go to the cafeteria, then your habit isn’t motivated by a sugar craving. She turned down the volume on the television so, instead of hearing words, all she could detect was the tone of the questioner’s voice.
When witnesses smiled more, or sat closer to the person asking the questions, they were more likely to misremember. The reward I was seeking was a temporary distraction – the kind that comes from gossiping with a friend.
Other times it seemed like too much work to find a friend willing to chat – it was easier to get a cookie, and so I gave in to the urge.

But at about 3:30 everyday, I absentmindedly stand up, look around the newsroom for someone to talk to, spend 10 minutes gossiping about the news, and then go back to my desk. But I think that the most valuable part is that you can apply its content to practically any field you like. Decisions, meanwhile, are made in a different part of the brain called the prefrontal cortex.
The next day, go to the cafeteria, buy an apple, and eat it while chatting with your friends. What’s more, studies show that writing down a few words helps in later recalling what you were thinking at that moment. Other eyewitnesses, on the other hand, can remember the crimes they’ve seen with near-perfect recall. But when she watched videotape after videotape of witness interviews, looking for these cues, she couldn’t see anything.
The Power of Habit Summary is not domain specific but contains rather universal knowledge that can be used to change people – both you and others. But as soon as a behavior becomes automatic, the decision-making part of your brain goes into a sleep mode of sorts. Your routine is that you get up from your desk in the afternoon, walk to the cafeteria, buy a chocolate chip cookie and eat it while chatting with friends. Most cravings are like this: obvious in retrospect, but incredibly hard to see when we are under their sway. At the end of the experiment, when you review your notes, it will be much easier to remember what you were thinking and feeling at that precise instant, because your scribbled words will trigger a wave of recollection. It is a great book, perhaps one of the most interesting that I’ve read if I consider the potential in its core idea.
His new book The Power of Habit explores the science behind why we do what we do a€” and how companies are now working to use our habit formations to sell and market products to us.
Then, instead of going to the cafeteria, walk over to your friend’s office and gossip for a few minutes and go back to your desk. Eventually, it got be automatic: when the alarm rang, I found a friend, and ended the day feeling a small, but real, sense of accomplishment. We would feed him chicken nuggets or other stuff for dinner, which was the only stuff he would eat.
And when I couldn’t find anyone to chat with, I went to the cafeteria and bought tea and drank it with friends. First, there's a cue, or trigger, that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and let a behavior unfold. It was a struggle every night not to eat his dinner because a 2-year-old dinner is designed to taste delicious and to disintegrate into your mouth into carbs and sugar.
They wouldn't use Febreeze." That's when Proctor & Gamble reformulated Febreeze to include different scents. The reason why there's 12 of them is because the guy who came up with them a€” who wrote them one night while he was sitting on his bed a€” he chose them because there's 12 apostles. But companies can figure this out, and that's how they can make products work." Companies can also figure out how to get consumers to change their own habits and form new ones associated with their products or stores.
The megastore Target, for example, tries to target pregnant women, says Duhigg, in order to capture their buying habits for the next few years.

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