"In Good Habits, Bad Habits . . . the social psychologist Wendy Wood refutes both [William] James’s determinism and glib exhortations to be proactive, and seeks to give the general reader more realistic ideas for how to break habits. Drawing on her work in the field, she sees the task of sustaining positive behaviors and quelling negative ones as involving an interplay of decisions and unconscious factors . . . Even people who score high on self-control questionnaires may owe their apparent virtue to situational factors rather than to sheer fortitude." —Jerome Groopman, The New Yorker
"Many authors have written about habits . . . but Wood is also a premier scientist in psychology, working on how habits affect and are affected by the human mind. Top tip: Willpower isn’t enough. But through her original research, Wood explains what does work." —Bethanne Patrick, The Washington Post
"[An] enlightening debut . . . [Wendy Wood] eloquently explains current research on the role habits play in everyday activities such as snacking, exercising, and commuting . . . Her insightful, data-driven advice includes tactics such as “stacking”—grouping desired behaviors together with already-established behavioral patterns to incorporate actions into routines. Wood’s research and perspective on the malleability of habits will bring hope to any reader looking to create long-term behavioral change." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Fascinating and fun, this book will change a lot of lives. So much of human behavior is habitual—sometimes for better, sometimes for worse. Wood brings state-of-the-art social science into contact with the most pressing issues in daily life. She’s a tremendous guide.” —Cass R. Sunstein, Robert Walmsley University Professor, Harvard University, and author of How Change Happens
“Wendy Wood is the most thoughtful, innovative researcher studying the central role habits play in human behavior. Her work on habits has guided scientific understanding and will have a similar impact on public knowledge. I can’t imagine a better person writing this book.” —Dan Ariely, author of Predictably Irrational
“Wendy Wood is the world’s leading expert on habits—how we make them, break them, and change them. I expect that her book will be both eye-opening and immensely useful in teaching people how to get more done, quit smoking, start exercising, make better choices, and stop annoying their partners.” —Adam Grant, author of Originals
“Wendy Wood is the world’s foremost expert in the field, and this book is essential.” —Angela Duckworth, author of Grit: The Power and Passion of Perseverance
“No one has studied how habits form and influence behavior better than Wendy Wood. More importantly for readers, no one has done a better job of showing how to change negative habits into powerful, helpful versions.” —Robert B. Cialdini, author ofInfluence and Pre-Suasion
“An insightful guidebook from the world’s preeminent habits researcher. Good Habits, Bad Habits is a captivating tale of the science of habits and how you can use them to improve your life.” —Jonah Berger, author of Contagious: Why Things Catch On
“Drawing on decades of research, combined with the results of her own meticulous studies, Wendy Wood shows us how conventional advice on creating good habits and eliminating bad habits is bound to fail. Wood's research reveals the surprisingly simple features that lie at the heart of good and bad habits. In Good Habits, Bad Habits, she shows how understanding these features is crucial to making habits stick and teaches us how to shape our own habits to improve our lives." —Samuel D. Gosling, personality and social psychologist
"Good Habits, Bad Habits is a fascinating tour of the science of habits, and Wendy Wood is the consummate tour guide. One of the world's leading habit researchers, Wood shares decades of her own research with wit, charm, and a keen eye for the stories that illuminate the processes of habit-making, habit-breaking, and habit-reshaping. If you want to understand your own habits—and how they form and can be reformed—Good Habits, Bad Habits is for you." —Adam Alter, NYU Stern School of Business
"Good Habits, Bad Habits is a huge achievement. Wendy Wood manages to distill the science of habit formation, most of which emerges from her own lab, in a manner that is fascinating but also, above all, extremely useful for people looking to make positive change in their life."—David Kessler, New York Times-bestselling author of The End of Overeating and Capture
The nuances of creating a proactive, positively charged habitual life.
Wood (Psychology and Business/Univ. of Southern California) has spent her career amassing research material to support theories that human behavior is best controlled with habitual repetition rather than willpower and good intentions, which are often not nearly enough to shift everyday activity. The author believes that in order to change behavior, the mechanics of habit formation must be understood first. Wood persuasively instructs readers with an informative amalgam of data, graduate training experiments, and psychological theories on conscious thought and rewiring desire and mannerisms. She notes that the same learning mechanisms responsible for bad habits also control good ones. "Going to the gym regularly and smoking a couple of cigarettes a day are the same," she writes, with the difference being how our habitual selves perceive and strive for personal goals. Wood notes that recent scientific studies reveal just how difficult human behavior is to change over the long term, but this data is also arming people with better game plans to disrupt the forces behind destructive patterns. Perhaps the most practical aspect of the book is the focus on functional tools and principles to interrupt and overcome the kinds of habits that prevent people from attaining more fruitful livelihoods and overall contentment. It is possible to achieve what she calls a "habit life" free from negative influences through the systematic replacement of poor habits with new ones that are beneficial and become just as familiar and comfortable. She instructs readers to disable the compulsive cues that engage such potentially bad behavior as overeating, distracted driving, and online shopping. When applied to real-life situations and acknowledged by readers seeking true behavioral reengineering, her research and valuable perspectives offer both hope and the possibility for a more manageable, productive life. A practical and cautionary story about how to break the cellphone habit concludes this intelligent assessment with encouragement.
A timely, essential guide to understanding and molding our behaviors to achieve better results in our ever changing lifestyles.