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The major had analyzed videotapes of riots and had found that violence was often preceded by a crowd of Iraqis gathering in a plaza and, over the course of hours, growing in size. Food vendors would show up, as well as spectators. Then, someone would throw a rock or a bottle.
When the major met with Kufa’s mayor, he made an odd request: Could they keep food vendors out of the plazas? Sure, the mayor said. A few weeks later, a small crowd gathered near the Great Mosque of Kufa. It grew in size. Some people started chanting angry slogans. At dusk, the crowd started getting restless and hungry. People looked for the kebab sellers normally filling the plaza, but there were none to be found. The spectators left. The chanters became dispirited. By 8 p.m., everyone was gone.
I asked the major how he had figured out that removing food vendors would change peoples' behavior.
The U.S. military, he told me, is one of the biggest habit-formation experiments in history. “Understanding habits is the most important thing I’ve learned in the army,” he said. By the time I got back to the U.S., I was hooked on the topic.
How have your own habits changed as a result of writing this book?
Since starting work on this book, I've lost about 30 pounds, I run every other morning (I'm training for the NY Marathon later this year), and I'm much more productive. And the reason why is because I've learned to diagnose my habits, and how to change them.
Take, for instance, a bad habit I had of eating a cookie every afternoon. By learning how to analyze my habit, I figured out that the reason I walked to the cafeteria each day wasn't because I was craving a chocolate chip cookie. It was because I was craving socialization, the company of talking to my colleagues while munching. That was the habit's real reward. And the cue for my behavior - the trigger that caused me to automatically stand up and wander to the cafeteria, was a certain time of day.
So, I reconstructed the habit: now, at about 3:30 each day, I absentmindedly stand up from my desk, look around for someone to talk with, and then gossip for about 10 minutes. I don't even think about it at this point. It's automatic. It's a habit. I haven't had a cookie in six months.
What was the most surprising use of habits that you uncovered?
The most surprising thing I've learned is how companies use the science of habit formation to study - and influence - what we buy.
Take, for example, Target, the giant retailer. Target collects all kinds of data on every shopper it can, including whether you’re married and have kids, which part of town you live in, how much money you earn, if you've moved recently, the websites you visit. And with that information, it tries to diagnose each consumer’s unique, individual habits.
Why? Because Target knows that there are these certain moments when our habits become flexible. When we buy a new house, for instance, or get married or have a baby, our shopping habits are in flux. A well-timed coupon or advertisement can convince us to buy in a whole new way. But figuring out when someone is buying a house or getting married or having a baby is tough. And if you send the advertisement after the wedding or the baby arrives, it’s usually too late.
So Target studies our habits to see if they can predict major life events. And the company is very, very successful. Oftentimes, they know what is going on in someone's life better than that person's parents.
This book is not only well researched it's easy to read and very interesting!
This is a great book about the power of habit and what we can do to change our habits in business, life, and society.
Learn about how habits influence your life, for good and bad, and how you can change them or create new ones.
Read with a pen because you'll want to take notes. Don't forget to recommend this book to a friend or loved one!Published 9 hours ago by sd_chip
I usually don't write book review here unless it truly make me feel that I have the responsibility to warn other people not to waste their money. Read morePublished 10 hours ago by Jun Wang
Informative and enthralling book. Highly recommend this for anyone interested in learning how you brain works in terms of habits.Published 13 hours ago by Jason
I was intrigued by every aspect of this book, even the parts others found boring. I read reviews by those who loved the beginning (individuals' habits) but who got bored with the... Read morePublished 1 day ago by John E. Mills Jr.
It's a very enjoyable book from the very first page but at the same time it's very practical and compelling. Read morePublished 1 day ago by Felipe González Soto
Great book. Really makes you think about the world behind your habits.Published 1 day ago by David Smith
This is a fascinating, well-written book. Duhigg explores, details, and provides great examples on why we do what we do and what it takes to change what we do. Read morePublished 2 days ago by Michael Thomas Black