Reflections on Past Behavior: A Self-Report Index of Habit Strength1

Authors

  • Bas Verplanken,

    Corresponding author
    1. University of Tromsø Tromsø Norway
      Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Bas Verplanken, Department of Psychology, University of Tromso, N-9037 Tromsø, Norway. E-mail: verplanken@psyk.uit.no
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  • Sheina Orbell

    1. University of Essex Essex, United Kingdom
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  • 1

    The authors thank Rob Holland and Raymond Smeets for their contribution in collecting the data of Experiment 1, and Kenneth Lindberget for collecting the data of Experiment 2. They also thank Ieek Ajzen, David Silvera, and two anonymous reviewers for their useful comments on an earlier version of this article.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Bas Verplanken, Department of Psychology, University of Tromso, N-9037 Tromsø, Norway. E-mail: verplanken@psyk.uit.no

Abstract

We argue that habit is a psychological construct, rather than simply past behavioral frequency. In 4 studies, a 12-item index of habit strength (the Self-Report Habit Index, SRHI) was developed on the basis of features of habit; that is, a history of repetition, automaticity (lack of control and awareness, efficiency), and expressing identity. High internal and test-retest reliabilities were found. The SRHI correlated strongly with past behavioral frequency and the response frequency measure of habit (Verplanken, Aarts, van Knippenberg, & van Knippenberg, 1994). The index discriminated between behaviors varying in frequency, and also between daily vs. weekly habits. The SRHI may be useful as a dependent variable, or to determine or monitor habit strength without measuring behavioral frequency.

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