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Education Bookcast

Apr 18, 2016

Up till now, we've had several episodes looking at the question of "why do people do what they do?". Most recently, we asked and answered that question from the perspective of persuasion, in a sense addressing the sub-question "why are people persuaded to do what they do?". Now we get a chance to look at it with the lens of habit: "why do people do the same things so often? How do these habits form? And how can we get rid of them?"

In case you think that habit is unimportant, my first priority would be to disabuse you of that notion.

  • Psychologists estimate that around 40% of people's day-to-day behaviours are based on habit. To put that more strikingly, almost half of our day-to-day decisions *are not decisions*, but things that we do automatically.
  • Doing things according to habit requires little or no willpower, whereas going against it quickly depletes that limited mental resource. People who appear to have strong willpower usually just have deeply ingrained good habits.
  • Habits never really go away. (What?) It is possible to "break" an old habit, but only by replacing it with a new one.

Now that you're convinced about the importance of the topic, it's time for me to persuade you to listen to the episode. 

  1. You're a smart, curious person. You're just the kind of person who would listen to this. And you've listened to other episodes of the podcast, and other podcasts about psychology and learning. (commitment & consistency)
  2. Thousands of people just like you have listened to it already... (social proof)
  3. ...and if you delay, the server will be overloaded and there will be none left! So hurry, while stocks last! (scarcity)
  4. I've spent all this time making it just for you, won't you do me the kindness of listening to it? (reciprocity)
  5. Professor Carol Dweck says you must listen to it. (authority)
  6. Nice phone, by the way. (liking)

If you're confused about what just happened, try going back and listening to episode 14 again. If you need any more reasons, here are some episode 11-style attempts...

  • Give me 10 reasons why you shouldn't listen to it. (cognitive difficulty)
  • Listen to the Bookcast, it'll have you hooked fast! (cognitive ease)
  • You have to admit, it has a nice logo. (halo effect / judgement by basic assessment)
  • I know you. You pride yourself as an independent thinker, and do not accept others' statements without satisfactory proof. However, you have a great need for other people to like and admire you, and you tend to be critical of yourself. Luckily, you have a lot of unused capacity, which you are yet to turn to your advantage. This episode can help you with that. (Barnum effect)
  • You've already spent so much time reading this, do you want all that time to go to waste? (sunk cost fallacy)
  • Ok, ok, if you don't have time, just listen to the first hour. Oh alright, jeez! The first 20 minutes then! (anchoring) (contrast effect)

Enjoy the episode.