100 Things You Should Know About People: #84 — Average Time To Form A Habit Is 66 Days

The Phrase Habit Forming

You turn on your computer each morning and do the same activities: First you check your email, then you check Facebook, and go to weather.com to check the weather. (Or whatever your particular pattern is). You do this every day. It’s a habit. Why are you motivated to do these same tasks every day? What did it take for these activities to become a habit? What would it take to change the habit to something else?

Cementing a habit — Philippa Lally (2010) recently studied the how and how long of forming habits. She had people choose an eating, drinking or activity behavior to carry out every day for 12 weeks. In addition, the participants in the research would go online and complete a self-report habit index (SRHI) each day, to record whether they had carried out the behavior.

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Watch Out For Spending More Because of Habit

When I go to fill up on gas I always use the middle grade of gas… (this is the principle of contrast, by the way… when faced with choices of varying prices many people will pick the price that is one down from the most expensive… but that is a sidebar… it’s not even what this blog post is about!). And the middle grade of gas is supposed to be in the middle, right?

I don’t know if I’m getting paranoid these days or if this is a random occurence, or if some companies are actually trying to get me to spend more money, but here’s what I’ve been noticing: Instead of having the middle price in the middle… the HIGHEST price is actually in the middle! By habit I put the nozzle in the tank and always push the middle button… And I am therefore, unwittingly, choosing the most expensive gas.

Here are some examples:

And as we all know, once a habit is formed, it’s hard to break.

Anyone else been noticing this type of “switch” at gasoline pumps or in other ways?