(Image: Big Bend National Park, United States, Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash)

The word ‘habit’, in everyday language, is often used as a synonym for frequently repeated behaviour. But within psychology there is important nuance to how the word is defined:

‘Habit can be defined as a learned sequence of acts that has become an automatic response to specific context cues [emphasis added] and is functional in obtaining certain goals or end-states.’ (Verplanken & Aarts, 1999).

Habits are a form of mental shortcut. As we repeat a behaviour in a specific context our brain begins to forego conscious decision-making in favour of using cues as triggers for behaviour. According to Wendy Wood…

(Image: Defining Global Challenges: Climate Change & the Covid-19 Pandemic, via Freepik)

The devastating sweep of COVID-19 has shocked the globe into a standstill. The rising death toll and early signs of a global economic depression indicate that the COVID-19 pandemic will shape the future of the globe considerably.

The scale of consequence from the sudden emergence of COVID-19 has placed the pandemic alongside climate change as a defining challenge of our era. Both challenges require individuals to make choices of great consequence in terms of how we respond.

The failure to previously develop infrastructure to deal with a potential pandemic undoubtedly left the globe at a vulnerable starting point when it…

Colm Mulcahy

Behavioural Economist | currently working on strategy for sustainable public transport in Ireland with CIÉ.

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