Date of Completion


Embargo Period



habits, health psychology, flossing, meta-analysis, IAT, SRHI, SRBAI, HINT

Major Advisor

Blair T Johnson, PhD

Associate Advisor

Amy A Gorin, PhD

Associate Advisor

Frederick X Gibbons, PhD

Field of Study



Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Open Access


The concept of habit has had a controversial history in psychology, but support for a habit theory is plentiful in various areas of research, such as learning and environmental psychology, including embodied and dual-process theories of cognition. Further, recent advances in measurement have provided support for habit as an independent construct and enabled research into the contribution of habits to a wide variety of behaviors. As a framework to guide further advances, I propose a 3-part conceptualization based on recurring elements within the definitions of habit in previous research: Habits are patterns of responding characterized by repetition, automaticity, and psychological association. While previous research has focused heavily on repetition and automaticity, association has mostly been assumed rather than explored directly. I conducted 3 studies with the goal of demonstrating the presence of association in habit, testing association-based assumptions in previous habit research, and developing a tool for measuring the associative strength of a habit. This work may have useful implications for health behavior change—habits are likely to be key determinants of many health behaviors, and the hypothesized associative nature of habits may be a particularly effective target for novel intervention strategies.