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Is habitual behavior dependent on the stability of the situation in which it originated?
The study investigated the effects of changes in environmental cues on habitual behaviors. In the first stage, the researcher developed a procedure to form a habit based on past theoretical formulations. Participants sorted title pages containing the word attitude into a blue box and those containing the word habit into a red box until they were able to do so quickly. In the second stage, the disruptive effects of cognitive load (counting backwards in twos), changes in goal-relevant environmental cues (i.e., cues that are necessary to achieve a goal) and changes in goal-irrelevant environmental cues (i.e., cues that are not necessary to achieve a goal) on the habit formed in the first stage were examined. Changes in goal-relevant cues had a disruptive effect on habit while changes in goal-irrelevant cues did not. Cognitive load also disrupted habit. However, it was the joint effect of changes in goal-relevant cues and cognitive load that caused the greatest disruption. It is concluded that habits should be conceptualized as mindless skills guided by slightly controlled processes.
Carvajal, Franklin O, "Is habitual behavior dependent on the stability of the situation in which it originated?" (2002). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3068545.