Cracks in the wall: Habit discontinuities as vehicles for behaviour change

Bas Verplanken, Deborah Roy, Lorraine Whitmarsh

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


There are periods where we undergo a significant change, such as transitions from school to work, starting a family, moving house, or retirement. This chapter discusses the idea that these moments of change provide opportunities for more effective behaviour change interventions; people may be more sensitive to helpful information, or simply ‘in the mood for change’. We first discuss situations where behaviour changes due to changing circumstances. We then turn to studies that experimentally investigated the Habit Discontinuity Hypothesis, that is, interventions that explicitly capitalize on context change. In the final section, we discuss three mechanisms that may play key roles in these discontinuity effects, namely the ‘unfreezing’ of old habits, information acquisition and processing, and the role of value activation and value change.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Psychology of Habit
EditorsBas Verplanken
PublisherSpringer Nature Switzerland AG
Number of pages205
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-319-97529-0
ISBN (Print)978-3-319-97528-3
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 31 Oct 2018


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