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Habits are automatic routines of behavior that are repeated regularly, without thinking. They are learned, not instinctive, human behaviors that occur automatically, without the explicit contemporaneous intention of the person. The person may not be paying attention to or be conscious or aware of the behavior. When the behavior is brought to the person's attention, they may be able to control it.[How to reference and link to summary or text]
Habit is an important part of the definition of such fundamental psychological concepts as self.
aspects of habits
In Early Thought
In Early Psychological Thought
Pragmatism and functional psychology
Habit loomed large in the psychological writing of the Pragmatism, William James and John Dewey, and the functional psychologists, the early advocates of which were students of Dewey. Chapter IV of James's Principles of Psychology puts habit as a fundamental building block of human behavior and mentions habit as applicable in thought as well.
For Dewey habit is even more central.
In Self-help Literature
In cognitive neuroscience
In contemporary thought
Ellen Langer in her books, especially Mindfulness, has portrayed mindfulness as good and habit, mindlessness, as bad. "A mindful approach to any activity has three characteristics: the continuous creation of new categories; openness to new information; and an implicit awareness of more than one perspective." "Mindlessness, in contrast, is characterized by an entrapment in old categories; by automatic behavior that precludes attending to new signals; and by action that operates from a single perspective."
In contrast Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in Flow seems to portray habitual behavior as indispensable for and almost indistinguishable from flow, which he clearly views as a good thing.
Daniel Wegner simply declares that all of our behavior is automatic in the sense of being beyond our conscious control and that the experience of conscious control is an illusion.
Habit Modification Approaches
Maladaptive Behavior with Habitual Elements
- Butler, Gillian; Hope, Tony. Managing Your Mind: The mental fitness guide. Oxford Paperbacks, 1995
- James Rowland Angell and Addison W. Moore. "Studies from the Psychological Laboratory of the University of Chicago: 1. Reaction-Time: A Study in Attention and Habit." Psychological Review 3, (1896): 245-258.)
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