Today’s episode of NPR’s Hidden Brain podcast, hosted by Shankar Vedantam, is excellent. The guest, Wendy Wood, is a psychology professor who debunks myths about willpower and explains how habits are formed and changed.
Some key points:
- Will-power and education may be effective for one-off, short-term changes, but are not effective for forming or breaking habits.
- Habits are the product of dopamine rewards in the brain and repetition.
- To build a habit, make it easy to do, and enjoyable/rewarding.
- To remove a habit, make it harder to do, and enjoyable/rewarding to avoid.
- To be effective, positive and negative reinforcement need to be close to the “now.”