Power of Habit Summary

September 16, 2012 at 8:29 pm Leave a comment

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg


What is it?

Journalistic pop-science. An eclectic collection of interesting and useful facts with a loose over-riding theme. Very exciting if you don’t know most of these facts, slightly annoying if you do. Has references to relevant material.


Thesis in a paragraph

Much of people behaviour can be explained by simplified, sometimes irrational, often automatic decision-making processes rather than careful rational thought. Many of these processes can be understood formally, if not scientifically, such understanding can be applied generally to good effect.


Structure of the book

Much of the book is coached in the terms of the “habit-loop” a form of conditioning which can be observed in the brains of humans and animals.

The book starts off by investigation the evidence for this habit-loop at a physiogical level and looks at its implications. It then attempts to apply this idea rather loosely to a number of other fields: organizations, social movements and medical treatment. However, since these formally constrained ideas cannot be cleanly applied to these fields (or even individual human behaviour) it becomes more of an anecdote filled discovery of how the more general theme of automatic behaviour can be applied to these fields.

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