Self-Motivation
David Goggins
Former Navy Seal
Career Development
Bryan Cranston
Actor
Critical Thinking
Liv Boeree
International Poker Champion
Emotional Intelligence
Amaryllis Fox
Former CIA Clandestine Operative
Management
Chris Hadfield
Retired Canadian Astronaut & Author
Learn
from the world's big
thinkers
Start Learning

Understanding the Cues and Rewards of Habit

The cue and the reward become neurologically intertwined until a sense of craving emerges that drives your behavior.

So there is a woman, named Wendy Wood, who did a study when she was at Duke.  And she followed around college students to try to figure out how much of their day was decision-making versus how much was habit.  And what she found was that about 45 percent of all the behaviors that someone did in a day was habit; it wasn’t decision-making.  


And this gets to sort of the way that habits work, which is that there’s this thing called the “habit loop.”  And this is in our neurology of how a habit emerges, which is, there’s three parts to it:  there’s first a cue, which is a trigger for behavior and then the behavior itself, which we usually refer to as a routine or scientists refer to it as a routine, and then there’s the reward.  And the reward is actually why the habit happens in the first place, it’s how your brain sort of decides, should I remember this pattern for the future or not. 

And the cue and the reward become neurologically intertwined until a sense of craving emerges that drives your behavior.  And this actually explains so much of our lives.  And not only, like, our lives, but also how companies function.  

If you take this framework and sort of apply it and look at the behaviors that you do, for instance, backing your car out of a driveway or why you suddenly feel hungry when you see a donut box on the counter at work, but you weren’t hungry five minutes earlier.  Or why companies function in certain ways, why these dysfunctions emerge within a corporation.  You can find these cues and rewards that kind of explain the behaviors.  So, it’s enormously important.

In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

LIVE ON MONDAY | "Lights, camera, activism!" with Judith Light

Join multiple Tony and Emmy Award-winning actress Judith Light live on Big Think at 2 pm ET on Monday.

Big Think LIVE

Add event to calendar

AppleGoogleOffice 365OutlookOutlook.comYahoo

Keep reading Show less

Scientists see 'rarest event ever recorded' in search for dark matter

The team caught a glimpse of a process that takes 18,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 years.

Image source: Pixabay
Surprising Science
  • In Italy, a team of scientists is using a highly sophisticated detector to hunt for dark matter.
  • The team observed an ultra-rare particle interaction that reveals the half-life of a xenon-124 atom to be 18 sextillion years.
  • The half-life of a process is how long it takes for half of the radioactive nuclei present in a sample to decay.
Keep reading Show less

Space travel could create language unintelligible to people on Earth

A new study looks at what would happen to human language on a long journey to other star systems.

Cylindrical space colony.

Credit: NASA Ames Research Center.
Surprising Science
  • A new study proposes that language could change dramatically on long space voyages.
  • Spacefaring people might lose the ability to understand the people of Earth.
  • This scenario is of particular concern for potential "generation ships".
Keep reading Show less

Your emotions are the new hot commodity — and there’s an app for that

Many of the most popular apps are about self-improvement.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Personal Growth

Emotions are the newest hot commodity, and we can't get enough.

Keep reading Show less
Scroll down to load more…
Quantcast