Habit and the HERD (I)


Am ploughing my way through Charles Duhigg's new book on Habits at the moment and – the basic point about habits and our tendency default to low-level cognitive activity aside – am finding it all rather disappointingly and over familiar territory. 

Not just in terms of the overkill of neuro-cartography ("we know that this is important because there's something going on in the brain here…") but in terms of the ideas of habits being shaped by rewards and repetition (in what way is this not classical conditioning?).

Add to that the lionising of dead Mad Men and their supposed magical abilities to change habits among the larger population (highly overstated, as it happens).

And let's be honest, the relentless invididualist & materialist perspective: presenting human behaviour as the product of fundamentally isolated individuals and their biology….

I've been promised that it gets better later – as Neil spotted:

“Change occurs among other people,” one of the psychologists involved in the study, Todd Heatherton, told me. “It seems real when we can see it in other people’s eyes.”

Now, that's more like it. I'm hoping we get there sooner rather than later.