The nature of habits and the human unconscious remains a mystery to the Discipline of Neuroscience. Indeed, simplistic pop psych books like Duhigg’s The Power of Habit and Kahneman’s Fast and Slow miss the ‘wicked’ nature of the human unconscious and the collective unconscious. Both texts come from the ‘fix it’ school of black and white. The agendas in both Kahneman’s Behavioural Economics and Dihigg’s Behaviourism remain hidden to the undiscerning reader but be reassured, the foundation is behaviourism.
Nothing about humans is simple, black and white or fast and slow. If anything, fallible humans are caught in a paradox floating in the middle. Humans as embodied minds simply don’t work according to some behaviourist ‘model’ or ‘formula’. Wouldn’t it be easy if we could just empty our prisons of people with bad habits with just a punishment reward mechanism? That’s what is done now, and it doesn’t work.
There is still so much we do not know about the human mind and unconscious and if someone is speaking certainties about the unconscious retranslate as ‘speculation’ and voodoo salesperson.
The notion of habit is tied to many unpredictable qualities of being a fallible human namely: cognitive bias, social influences, environmental context, semisophere, collective unconscious, gender, culture, implicit knowing, semantics, personality, psyche, habitus, discourse, human mind-embodiment, symbolism and dreaming. If you want to know just how mystical and unknown the unconscious is just delve into dreaming and find out what we don’t know about it. Tackling the human unconscious is a wicked problem. If you want to learn more about habits then start studying and researching in any of these areas mentioned above and for god sake don’t read what Safety says.
Hey, but let’s not let the assumptions of behaviourism get in the way of reality.
It is impossible to be human and not have habits. Habits by nature are not known to us and so are only known to others. The only way one knows a habit is through socialitie. The idea that one can be self-aware of a habit and then change it through some behaviourist mechanism is laughable. It is misleading to talk about ‘cures’ for habits or the ‘neurology of free will’, both terms Duhigg champions are simplistic and not true. The subject-object dialectic and free-will determinism dialectic are unsolvable. When you get to the end of Duhigg’s book its all about behaviours and rewards. The trouble is, habits and change don’t work like that and we know it through our own habits.
Just try to change a smoker, gambler, alcoholic, drug addict or any mental health issue or habit using behaviourism and see how it goes. It’s mostly hit and miss, humans are not machines or objects.
Of course there is one habit that Safety has been addicted to for 30 years and that habit is behaviourism (https://safetyrisk.net/the-curse-of-behaviourism/). If there was ever a habit that needed kicking it is this delusional ideology that treats people as objects. When you define culture as behaviours (what we do around here) you set in place a program of workplace toxicity. Read any newsletter from any safety source and there it is, Safety in love with behaviourism.