How can you resist your bad habits?

This study says we are very much influenced by context and familiar patterns.

If we can avoid or modify these “triggers” we can increase our ability to not do those things we shouldn’t.

In other words, avoid the situations you usually perform the activity and set it up so that it’s hard for you to progress with your standard ritual:

To identify the factors that disrupt and maintain habit performance, two field experiments tested the conditions under which people eat out of habit, leading them to resist motivational influences. Habitual popcorn eaters at a cinema were minimally influenced by their hunger or how much they liked the food, and they ate equal amounts of stale and fresh popcorn. Yet, mechanisms of automaticity influenced habit performance: Participants ate out of habit, regardless of freshness, only when currently in the context associated with past performance (i.e., a cinema; Study 1) and only when eating in a way that allowed them to automatically execute the response cued by that context (i.e., eating with their dominant hand; Study 2). Across all conditions, participants with weaker cinema-popcorn-eating habits ate because of motivations such as liking for the popcorn. The findings reveal how habits resist conflicting motives and provide insight into promising mechanisms of habit change.

Source: “The Pull of the Past, When Do Habits Persist Despite Conflict With Motives?” from Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin

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