Why don’t we develop good habits

Many of you know that even simple habits with known benefits such as handwashing are not followed as often as we would like to think.  Various studies hand washing studies reach different results but none of them are encouraging.  http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/10347.php,  http://www.canada.com/montrealgazette/story.html?id=3df82857-7efb-46cf-815e-912524b990a6,  Even doctors, who should know better, don’t wash hands as frequently as we would like to believe. So why don’t we just do what we know is best? I’m guessing it’s because we are distracted, rushed, or simply don’t think about it at the right time.

Without forcing functions, peer pressure, or other aids, performing activities consistently seems to be pretty hard to do.  A study on habit development referred to in the following blog post, http://bps-research-digest.blogspot.com/2010/10/how-to-form-habit.html emphasizes that it takes time and consistency. (Automatically, BTW is a subject we also discuss in Deliberate Practice). Complex behaviors are even harder to develop. Later, I’ll look at another example and discuss using process, process data, and process aids.

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About Bill Nichols

PhD in Physics from Carnegie Mellon University I'm a software team coach and instructor with the TSP Team at the Software Engineering Institute
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