Theory and Methods

We use a broad range of methods to deliver theoretical, methodological and empirical research insights across various behaviours.

Ninety-nine hundredths or, possibly, nine hundred and ninety-nine thousandths of our activity is purely automatic and habitual William James, 1891

Theory of habits

Our theoretical research addresses fundamental questions about the nature and role of habit in human behaviour.

  • What is a habit?
  • What is a habitual behaviour? 
  • How long does it take to form a habit?

What is a habit? Defining habit

Gardner, B., & Lally, P. (in press/2022). Habit and habitual behaviour. Health Psychology Review.

Gardner, B. (2015) A review and analysis of the use of ‘habit’ in understanding, predicting and influencing health-related behaviour. Health Psychology Review, 9, 277-295.

What is a habitual behaviour?

Gardner, B., Rebar, A.L., & Lally, P. (2019) A matter of habit: recognising the multiple roles of habit in health behaviour. British Journal of Health Psychology, 24, 241-249.

How long does it take to form a habit?

Lally, P., van Jaarsveld, C. H. M., Potts, H. W. W., & Wardle, J. (2010). How are habits formed: Modelling habit formation in the real world. European Journal of Social Psychology, 40, 9981009.

Methods for understanding habits

Our methodological research aims to develop new ways of studying habit in the real-world.

  • How should habit be studied?
  • What is the best way to measure habit? 

How should habit be studied?

Gardner, B., Rebar, A., & Lally, P. (2022). How does habit form? Guidelines for tracking real-world habit formation. Cogent Psychology, 9, 2041277.

Gardner, B. & Lally, P. (2018) Modelling habit formation and its determinants. In B. Verplanken (Ed.), The psychology of habit (pp207-229). Berlin: Springer.

What is the best way to measure habit?

Gardner, B., Abraham, C., Lally, P., & de Bruijn, G.-J. (2012) Towards parsimony in habit measurement: Testing the convergent and predictive validity of an automaticity subscale of the Self-Report Habit Index. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 9, 102. https://doi.org/10.1186/1479-5868-9-102

Rebar, A., Gardner, B., Rhodes, R.E., & Verplanken, B. (2018). The measurement of habit. In B. Verplanken (Ed.), The psychology of habit (pp31-49). Berlin: Springer.