Nov 20, 2020
Today I am so excited to
introduce you to Dr. Wendy Wood. Her fantastic new book
Good Habits Bad
Habits (which I
mentioned last week was voted book of the year in the Habit Weekly
Awards) is just one of the many amazing things she has contributed
to the field of habits. Much of what we know about habits is thanks
to Wendy’s research. The things we now know about how habits work
and what they’re doing in the brain is in large part because of
Wendy is a social psychologist
whose research looks into the ways habits guide behavior and why
they are so difficult to break. She is provost professor of
psychology and business at the University of Southern California
and has been Associate Editor of Psychological Review, Journal of
Personality and Social Psychology, Personality and Social
Psychology Review, and Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.
She is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, the
American Psychological Society, the Society for Experimental Social
Psychology, and a founding member of the Society for Research
Her research has been funded by
the National Science Foundation, National Institute of Mental
Health, and Rockefeller Foundation. Prior to joining USC, Professor
Wood was James B. Duke Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience and
Professor of Marketing at Duke University, and she is just a lovely
person whom I really enjoyed talking to.
- [00:42] Today I am so excited to introduce you
to Dr. Wendy Wood. Her fantastic new book Good Habits Bad Habits is just one of the many amazing things she has
contributed to the field of habits.
- [02:47] Wendy is a social psychologist whose
research looks into the ways habits guide behavior and why they are
so difficult to break.
- [04:52] Habits are part of our unconscious.
They are a way our brain learns by connecting what we’ve done in a
given context that got us a reward.
- [05:20] All mammals have a habit learning
- [07:05] With a habit you are repeating what you
have done before while your mind is off solving other
- [08:41] A habit frees our mind to do other
things. When the habit is disrupted, we are stuck back having to
make decisions. (Brain doesn’t like that!)
- [09:45] COVID has disrupted all of our habits
and we had to start making decisions about things we don’t usually
have to think about.
- [10:36] Wendy recommends not expecting as much
from yourself during the uncertainty of the
- [11:05] Once we are removed from our habits,
sometimes we end up finding things that work better. (Be open to
- [14:25] Research found that for habitual
runners the place where they typically ran activated thoughts of
running. Those thoughts perpetuate their
- [16:08] The context in which you typically
perform the behavior can trigger thoughts of that behavior.
- [17:30] Context activates habits and we usually
act on those habits in mind. Goals are what drive the more
occasional behaviors that we have to make a decision to
- [19:01] If you do an activity in the same way
every time, you are more likely to form a habit. You also want to
be able to repeat it regularly. Also, look for what makes it
rewarding to you, as we are more likely to repeat behaviors that we
- [20:42] Research has shown that it is important
to find ways to perform the habit easily. You will do something
more if it is easier. We can often set up our environment in a way
that would make it more likely that we will perform the
- [23:15] There is a lot of science behind the
importance of making good habits easy for us.
- [24:15] Along with making the desired behavior
easier, you want to make the things that are more problematic
(those you want to avoid or stop doing), more
- [26:04] Wendy recommends reverse engineering
what your environment is pushing you to do.
- [27:38] If you can incorporate the desired
behavior into your daily routine it is so much easier to get
yourself to do them. Anything that adds to the hassle makes it more
likely you will not do it.
- [30:01] Wendy shares her favorite study (which
also happens to be the one she is currently working
- [32:01] They found that social media revenue is
closely tied to habitual use.
- [33:26] Thoughts and tips for marketers on
using habits for good.
- [35:52] Product manufactures have to take
- [36:47] The trick is keeping up with current
development while also taking advantage of the cues that already
keep your habitual customers coming back.
- [39:01] Weight loss programs, in general, don’t
benefit from you losing weight and keeping it off. Their model
revolves around repeat customers.
- [41:09] If you want to change your behavior,
the way you typically go about it is not the most effective. We
focus on our conscious decision-making self while our habits run in
- [43:31] If you can make it easier in your life
to do the right thing and harder to do the thing that is being a
problem. You will make it easier to change your
- [46:23] Don’t forget to take advantage of
the year-end sale going on now.
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