routines of behavior that are repeated regularly, tend to occur subconsciously
, and tend to occur without directly thinking consciously
about those behaviors. Habitual behavior sometimes goes unnoticed in persons exhibiting these behaviors, because it is often times unnecessary to engage in self-analysis when undertaking in routine tasks. Habituation is an extremely simple form of learning, in which an organism, after a period of exposure to a stimulus, stops responding to that stimulus in varied manners.
Pragmatism and functional psychology
Habit loomed large in the psychological
writing of the Pragmatism
, William James
and John Dewey
, and the functional psychologists
, the early advocates of which were students of Dewey. Chapter IV of James's Principles of Psychology
puts habit as a fundamental building block of human behavior
and mentions habit as applicable in thought as well. Habit
is a very central theme in Dewey's research and writing.
Habits develop by doing an action enough times that the neurons in the brain create a pathway that enable them to move quickly from a trigger point, i.e. watching television, to performing the habit, eating. Habitual behaviours can take days or years to develop, depending on the complexity of the habit, and how often they are performed. However, evidence is showing, that once neurons have created the pathway it stays remarkably fixed and therefore difficult to break.
in her books, especially Mindfulness
, has portrayed mindfulness as good and habit, mindlessness, as bad. "A mindful approach to any activity has three characteristics: the continuous creation of new categories; openness to new information; and an implicit awareness of more than one perspective." "Mindlessness, in contrast, is characterized by an entrapment in old categories; by automatic behavior that precludes attending to new signals; and by action that operates from a single perspective."
In contrast, psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in Flow seems to portray habitual behavior as indispensable for and almost indistinguishable from flow, which he clearly views as a good thing.
Social psychology Daniel Wegner has theorized that all of our behavior is automatic in the sense of being beyond our conscious control and that the experience of conscious control is an illusion.
Habit modification approaches
Behaviors with habitual elements'''