Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Power of Habit Read-Along: Part 1

For this first week of the read-along we read the first 3 chapters of the book and were asked to consider, among others, the question of which "character's" story we liked most. I thought the story of Eugene Pauly was very compelling, but really sad. I can't imagine how horrible it must have been for his wife to go through the experience of him completely losing his present like that. As far as insights on habit I thought the experiences of Charles Hopkins, the advertising executive, were the most illuminating. The way that the advertising industry uses the habit loop to create a demand for a product where none really exists (Febreze, for example) is both powerful and alarming.

The concept of the habit loop -- there is something that acts as a trigger (the cue), then there is somthing you automatically do in response (the routine) because you know a reward will follow and you come to crave that reward was discussed in detail with several scientific examples (rats in mazes, for example). I didn't feel like Duhigg gave any solid real world examples though. People will exercise because they will feel good when they are done seems pretty vague to me as a motivation until you get to the point where the habit is already established. Similarly, the insertion of a new routine into an existing loop to change habits seemed to work best in examples, like AA, where there is a structure of support and self-examination to move you into the revised habit. The key to change appears to be examining what the triggers are that lead you to bad habits, but I'm not convinced that the true triggers could be identified for most habits.

I thought that the story of the football coach was interesting. The fact that the habit revisions didn't work in crisis situations until the team developed faith in their coach and their ability, seems to me to point to a tremendous problem with the applicability of the psychology to actual life. Faith, unconnected to any factual evidence, seems to be required for change to occur. The football team had learned all the skills and developed all the habits they needed, but until a crisis in the life of their coach inspired them to blindly believe in his methods, they couldn't use them to win. 

I am interested to see how the application of the habit loop model applies to companies in the next section. Is faith still a required component? If so, who has to believe?

Check out Joy's Book Blog for thoughts from other read-along readers. 

1 comment:

  1. I was amused by the reaction of the scientists that really didn't want faith to be part of the answer since it's all kind of squishy and not measurable.

    The lack of real-world examples is one of the reasons that this book reads, to me, like pop psychology rather than self help. Pop psychology books get more respect, but it seems to me (as someone who reads and appreciates self help) that I have to work harder to get the material to apply to my life.

    Excellent thoughts!

    Joy's Book Blog


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