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Habit formation and behavior change

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posted on 2019-05-10, 00:00 authored by Amanda RebarAmanda Rebar, B Gardner
Within psychology, the term habit is most often used to refer to a process whereby situations prompt action automatically, through activation of mental situation-action associations acquired through prior performances. Unlike consciously intended behavior, which proceeds via a cognitively effortful reflective processing system, behavior that is directed by habit is regulated by an impulsive processing system, and so can be elicited with minimal cognitive effort, awareness, control, or intention. The habit formation process involves a gradual transferral of action initiation from the conscious attentional or motivational processes involved in reflective processing, to external cuing mechanisms characteristic of impulsive processing. Behavior thus becomes detached from motivational or volitional control, freeing finite cognitive resources for unfamiliar or otherwise more demanding tasks. Upon encountering associated situations, habitual tendencies dominate action regulation, and alternative actions become less readily accessible.

History

Editor

Braddick O

Parent Title

Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Psychology

Start Page

1

End Page

29

Number of Pages

29

Publisher

Oxford University Press

Place of Publication

New York, NY

Open Access

  • No

External Author Affiliations

King's College London

Era Eligible

  • Yes

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