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J Pers Soc Psychol. 2000 Jan;78(1):53-63.

Habits as knowledge structures: automaticity in goal-directed behavior.

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  • 1Department of Psychology and Language, Eindhoven University of Technology, The Netherlands. h.a.g.aarts@tm.tue.nl

Abstract

This study tested the idea of habits as a form of goal-directed automatic behavior. Expanding on the idea that habits are mentally represented as associations between goals and actions, it was proposed that goals are capable of activating the habitual action. More specific, when habits are established (e.g., frequent cycling to the university), the very activation of the goal to act (e.g., having to attend lectures at the university) automatically evokes the habitual response (e.g., bicycle). Indeed, it was tested and confirmed that, when behavior is habitual, behavioral responses are activated automatically. In addition, the results of 3 experiments indicated that (a) the automaticity in habits is conditional on the presence of an active goal (cf. goal-dependent automaticity; J. A. Bargh, 1989), supporting the idea that habits are mentally represented as goal-action links, and (b) the formation of implementation intentions (i.e., the creation of a strong mental link between a goal and action) may simulate goal-directed automaticity in habits.

PMID:
10653505
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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