Habits, attitudes and behaviours in transition (HABITs); a field experiment testing the Habit Discontinuity Hypothesis

Debbie Roy, Bas Verplanken

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Objectives: To test if a transition to a new phase in life, (in this case moving to a new home) would make a bespoke behaviour change intervention more effective. According to the Habit Discontinuity Hypothesis (Verplanken, Walker, Davies, & Jurasek, 2008; Verplanken & Wood, 2006), such transitions result in old habitual patterns being temporarily disrupted, which may elicit a need to rethink and negotiate new behaviours and choices. A bespoke ecological intervention would have more effect for those who had recently experienced such as transition. Design: A field experiment followed a repeated-measures design, with two between-participant factors ‘moved home’ and ‘intervention’ (ecological intervention/no intervention). Methods: 800 people in a city in the east of England took part. Half of the respondents over the course of an eight-week period, received a tailored intervention delivered by Peterborough Environment City Trust and half did not (controls). Frequencies of a range of behaviours were tested at the beginning and again at the end of an eight-week participation period. The study investigated the effects with respect to a range of sustainable activities, and a range of additional dependent variables, such as attitudes, intentions, values, habit strength, and engagement with the environment. Results: Preliminary results indicate support for the Habit Discontinuity Hypothesis: A significant improvement in sustainable behaviour was observed only in the group who had been living in their home for 1-13 weeks and who received the intervention. Conclusions: The intervention was more effective among the recently moved households.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Bibliographical note

The British Psychological Society Social Psychology Section Annual Conference ; Conference date: 28-08-2013 Through 30-08-2013


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