A Qualitative Investigation into the Representations of Habit by Lay People

Presentation


Brown, Daniel J., Morrissey, Shirley, Hagger, Martin S. and Hamilton, Kyra. 2024. "A Qualitative Investigation into the Representations of Habit by Lay People." Australasian Society of Behavioural Health and Medicine National Conference (ASBHM 2024). Adelaide, Australia 07 - 09 Feb 2024 Australia.
Paper/Presentation Title

A Qualitative Investigation into the Representations of Habit by Lay People

Presentation TypePresentation
AuthorsBrown, Daniel J., Morrissey, Shirley, Hagger, Martin S. and Hamilton, Kyra
Year2024
Place of PublicationAustralia
Web Address (URL) of Conference Proceedingshttps://www.asbhm.com/asbhm2024/
Conference/EventAustralasian Society of Behavioural Health and Medicine National Conference (ASBHM 2024)
Event Details
Australasian Society of Behavioural Health and Medicine National Conference (ASBHM 2024)
Parent
Australasian Society for Behavioural Health and Medicine Annual Scientific Conference Proceedings
Delivery
Online
Event Date
07 to end of 09 Feb 2024
Event Location
Adelaide, Australia
Event Venue
The Terrace Hotel
Abstract

Objective: There is continued debate regarding the most useful and meaningful way to measure habit and how to form habits via intervention. To date, lay representations of habit have rarely been explored. Such understandings may provide clarity on how researchers might better define habit, develop valid measurements of habit, and evaluate habit-based interventions. This study aimed to explore how lay people represent habit, across two studies. Methods: Study 1 (N = 158) used an online, open-ended questionnaire to elicit what lay people believe to be the salient features of habit. Study 2 involved a series of interviews and focus groups (N = 27), to explore individual representations of habit. Results: Theoretical thematic content analysis across the two studies revealed that participants described habit by what it is (i.e., an explicit outcome or internal mechanism), by habit’s features (i.e., automatic, frequent, stable cue/context, and emotionally rewarding), and by how they evaluated habits (i.e., being both “good” and “bad”). When describing the characteristics of habitual behaviours, participants identified that habits were either simple, discrete behaviours; clustered, repetitive behaviours synonymous with routine; or a self-identity characteristic. Conclusions: Current findings indicate that lay people hold consistent and contradictory representations of habit. Largely, lay representations were similar to scientific conceptualisations, with some notable difference. Participants appeared to misunderstand the cue-based mechanism of habits, interchangeably used ‘habit’ with ‘routine’, and believed that habits were emotionally rewarding. Future research should focus on integrating the beliefs identified in this research with new measures of habit and habit interventions

ANZSRC Field of Research 2020520503. Personality and individual differences
520304. Health psychology
520505. Social psychology
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Byline AffiliationsGriffith University
University of California Merced, United States
University of Jyvaskyla, Finland
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