Getting in the habit: Understanding and harnessing the role of habit in health behaviour

Much human behaviour occurs habitually; i.e., repetitively and automatically, with minimal control, awareness, or conscious intention. Habitual behaviours are resistant to change, and so persist over time. This talk describes recent work that has adopted a habit-formation approach to the adoption of health-promoting behaviours, and outlines a set of guidelines for using habit-formation as a behaviour change strategy.

Dr Benjamin Gardner is Senior Lecturer in Psychology at King’s College London. His main research interests lie in developing and applying theory to understand and change behaviour, with an especial focus on habit theory. His current research focuses on trying to locate the precise role(s) of ‘habit’ in social and health-related behaviours, and using habit-formation as a behaviour change technique and intervention goal. He is also leading a programme of research into understanding and changing sedentary behaviour among office workers.