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      A review and analysis of the use of ‘habit’ in understanding, predicting and influencing health-related behaviour

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      Health Psychology Review

      Routledge

      habit, review, automaticity, behaviour change, study design

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          Abstract

          The term ‘habit’ is widely used to predict and explain behaviour. This paper examines use of the term in the context of health-related behaviour, and explores how the concept might be made more useful. A narrative review is presented, drawing on a scoping review of 136 empirical studies and 8 literature reviews undertaken to document usage of the term ‘habit’, and methods to measure it. A coherent definition of ‘habit’, and proposals for improved methods for studying it, were derived from findings. Definitions of ‘habit’ have varied in ways that are often implicit and not coherently linked with an underlying theory. A definition is proposed whereby habit is a process by which a stimulus generates an impulse to act as a result of a learned stimulus-response association. Habit-generated impulses may compete or combine with impulses and inhibitions arising from other sources, including conscious decision-making, to influence responses, and need not generate behaviour. Most research on habit is based on correlational studies using self-report measures. Adopting a coherent definition of ‘habit’, and a wider range of paradigms, designs and measures to study it, may accelerate progress in habit theory and application.

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          Most cited references 85

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          The theory of planned behavior

           Icek Ajzen (1991)
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            The behavior change technique taxonomy (v1) of 93 hierarchically clustered techniques: building an international consensus for the reporting of behavior change interventions.

            CONSORT guidelines call for precise reporting of behavior change interventions: we need rigorous methods of characterizing active content of interventions with precision and specificity. The objective of this study is to develop an extensive, consensually agreed hierarchically structured taxonomy of techniques [behavior change techniques (BCTs)] used in behavior change interventions. In a Delphi-type exercise, 14 experts rated labels and definitions of 124 BCTs from six published classification systems. Another 18 experts grouped BCTs according to similarity of active ingredients in an open-sort task. Inter-rater agreement amongst six researchers coding 85 intervention descriptions by BCTs was assessed. This resulted in 93 BCTs clustered into 16 groups. Of the 26 BCTs occurring at least five times, 23 had adjusted kappas of 0.60 or above. "BCT taxonomy v1," an extensive taxonomy of 93 consensually agreed, distinct BCTs, offers a step change as a method for specifying interventions, but we anticipate further development and evaluation based on international, interdisciplinary consensus.
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              Reflective and impulsive determinants of social behavior.

              This article describes a 2-systems model that explains social behavior as a joint function of reflective and impulsive processes. In particular, it is assumed that social behavior is controlled by 2 interacting systems that follow different operating principles. The reflective system generates behavioral decisions that are based on knowledge about facts and values, whereas the impulsive system elicits behavior through associative links and motivational orientations. The proposed model describes how the 2 systems interact at various stages of processing, and how their outputs may determine behavior in a synergistic or antagonistic fashion. It extends previous models by integrating motivational components that allow more precise predictions of behavior. The implications of this reflective-impulsive model are applied to various phenomena from social psychology and beyond. Extending previous dual-process accounts, this model is not limited to specific domains of mental functioning and attempts to integrate cognitive, motivational, and behavioral mechanisms.
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                Author and article information

                Affiliations
                [ a ]Health Behaviour Research Centre, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London , Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT, UK
                Author notes
                Journal
                Health Psychol Rev
                Health Psychol Rev
                RHPR
                rhpr20
                Health Psychology Review
                Routledge
                1743-7199
                1743-7202
                7 August 2015
                21 January 2014
                : 9
                : 3
                : 277-295
                876238
                10.1080/17437199.2013.876238
                4566897
                25207647
                © 2014 The Author(s). Published by Taylor & Francis.

                This is an Open Access article. Non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly attributed, cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way, is permitted. The moral rights of the named author(s) have been asserted.

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                Figures: 1, Tables: 1, References: 79, Pages: 19
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                Categories
                Review

                study design, behaviour change, automaticity, review, habit

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