Software and Computer Engineering

Behavior Change

The components of a habit

1. Cue -- the initial set of stimuli (sensations, thoughts, emotions, and so on) that trigger the habit.

2. Behavior -- the physical actions that take place after the cue (possibly unconsciously or automatically).

3. Reward -- the satisfaction (real or perceived, physical or psychological) that reinforces the habit.

Note that after the habit has been reinforced for enough long time, the cue-behavior relationship may persist even after any rewards cease to exist. A strong enough habit may persist even after dentrimental effects or punishment is introduced after the behavior.

Habit-Reversal Technique

Often times a persistent behavior occurs as an unconcious habit, so the first step for behavior change is realizing the behavior is taking place. The literature suggests that frequently awareness itself leads to behavior change.

Practice self-awareness of the signs/cues that might trigger the behavior. You might want to keep a diary of the times and situations that lead to the habit to occur, which increases self-awareness.

Intervention: Immediately after you realize the cue has happened, decide to take an “opposite” behavior, meaning an action that makes it physically impossible for the old behavior to occurr. After enough training, the old habit will be extinguished and/or replaced.