Date of Completion
habits, health psychology, flossing, meta-analysis, IAT, SRHI, SRBAI, HINT
Blair T Johnson, PhD
Amy A Gorin, PhD
Frederick X Gibbons, PhD
Field of Study
Doctor of Philosophy
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.
Low, Robert E., "Place in Habits and Habits in Place" (2016). Doctoral Dissertations. 1103.