The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We do in Life and Business Kindle Edition
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Q&A with Charles Duhigg
Q. What sparked your interest in habits?
A. I first became interested in the science of habits eight years ago, as a newspaper reporter in Baghdad, when I heard about an army major conducting an experiment in a small town named Kufa. 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.
Q. How have your own habits changed as a result of writing this book?
A. 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.
Q. What was the most surprising use of habits that you uncovered?
A. 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.
“Entertaining, an enjoyable book…a serious look at the science of habit formation and change.” —New York Times Book Review
"Duhigg brings a heaping, much-needed dose of social science and psychology to the subject, explaining the promise and perils of habits via an entertaining ride that touches on everything from marketing to management studies to the civil-rights movement… a fascinating read.”—Newsweek Daily Beast
“A fascinating exploration of our pathologically habitual society — we smoke, we incessantly check our BlackBerrys, we chronically choose bad partners, we always (or never) make our beds. Duhigg digs into why we are this way, and how we can change, both as individuals and institutionally.” —The Daily
“Charles Duhigg’s thesis is powerful in its elegant simplicity: confront the root drivers of our behavior, accept them as intractable, and then channel those same cravings into productive patterns. His core insight is sharp, provocative, and useful.”
—Jim Collins, #1 bestselling author of Good to Great and Built to Last
“The Power of Habit is not a magic pill but a thoroughly intriguing exploration of how habits function. Charles Duhigg expertly weaves fascinating new research and rich case studies into an intelligent model that is understandable, useful in a wide variety of contexts, and a flat-out great read. His chapter on ‘keystone habits’ alone would justify the book.”
—David Allen, bestselling author of Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity
“Charles Duhigg masterfully combines cutting-edge research and captivating stories to reveal how habits shape our lives and how we can shape our habits. Once you read this book, you’ll never look at yourself, your organization, or your world quite the same way.”
—Daniel H. Pink, author of #1 New York Times bestselling Drive and A Whole New Mind
“William James once observed that ninety-nine percent of human activity is done out of mere habit. In this fascinating book, Charles Duhigg reveals why James was right, documenting the myriad ways in which our habits shape our lives. Do you want to know why Febreze became a bestselling product? Or how Tony Dungy gets the most out of his football players? Or how the science of habits can be used to improve willpower? Read this book.”
—Jonah Lehrer, bestselling author of Proust Was a Neuroscientist and How We Decide --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
- Publication Date : February 28, 2012
- File Size : 2045 KB
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print Length : 479 pages
- Lending : Not Enabled
- ASIN : B00564GPKY
- Publisher : Doubleday Canada (February 28, 2012)
- Enhanced Typesetting : Enabled
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #382,710 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
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