Dictionary of Theories, Laws, and Concepts in Psychology

By Jon E. Roeckelein | Go to book overview

H

HABIT/HABIT FORMATION, LAWS/PRINCIPLES OF. The principle of habit may be defined as any instrumentally learned response that occurs with regularity and occurs in response to specific environmental events. In some cases, the habit is connected to a number of frequently occurring stimuli while, in other cases, habits may be connected to stimuli that infrequently occur (Pettijohn, 1986). The concept of habit/habit formation has a long history in psychology (Aristotle considered habit to be of basic importance in the development of one’s morality; Warren, 1934), where it originally referred only to motor or physical patterns of behavior (e.g., James, 1890; Baldwin, 1894), and has appeared most recently in the learning theories of Hull (1943, 1952) and Spence (1956, 1960) as a central term in their approaches where habit (‘‘response tendency’’) interacts with drive to produce behavior and where learning was considered to be the organization and accumulation of response habits. However, currently, the concept of habit has been given less attention because most psychologists today acknowledge that it is better defined in terms of operational definitions, processes of acquisition, and generalization as well as other factors that directly influence habits, especially the role of various environmental cues in habit formation. When habit is defined within the context of personality psychology, it refers to a pattern of activity that has, through repetition, become fixed, automatic, and easily carried out. In this case, habit is close in meaning to the concept of trait (i.e., any enduring characteristic of an individual that may serve in the role of a theoretical entity as an explanation for the observed regularities/consistencies in behavior; Reber, 1995). When habit is defined within the area of ethology (i.e., the study of animal behavior), it usually refers to a pattern of action that is characteristic of a particular species of animal and where an innate or species-specific behavior pattern is implied (as opposed to a ‘‘learned’’ behavior). The term habit formation has presented some semantic problems, historically, where it has often been used as a synonym for learning,

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Dictionary of Theories, Laws, and Concepts in Psychology
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Introduction xi
  • Abbreviations xvii
  • A 1
  • B 64
  • C 87
  • D 128
  • E 154
  • F 180
  • G 199
  • H 224
  • I 250
  • J 273
  • K 279
  • L 286
  • M 317
  • N 338
  • O 349
  • P 356
  • Q 395
  • R 396
  • S 418
  • T 451
  • U 463
  • V 466
  • W 474
  • X 485
  • Y 486
  • Z 489
  • Appendix A 495
  • Appendix B 521
  • Selected Bibliography 527
  • Subject Index 529
  • About the Author 549
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