Habit Formation: Basis, Types and Measures for Effective Habit Formation!
Habit is a simple form of learning—a change of behaviour with experience. It is defined as ‘an automatic response to a specific situation, acquired normally as a result of repetition and learning’. When behaviour is developed to the extent that it is highly automatic, it is called habit. Generally habit does not require our conscious attention.
The term habit is strictly applicable only to motor responses, but often applied more widely to habits of thought, perhaps more correctly termed attitudes.
Habits play important role in our daily life. All of us acquire different habits. They are the part of our life.
Habits may be good or bad. Hard working, writing, reading, regular exercise, meditation, etc. are examples of good habits. Alcoholism, drug addiction, lethargy, procrastination, telling lies, dishonesty, stealing, deceiving others, escapism, etc. are examples of bad habits.
Basis of Habit Formation:
Habit formation may be explained in two terms—Physiological and Psychological.
The physiological basis is related to our nervous system. According to this, when an act is repeated more number of times, a clear nervous connection is formed, leading to a path way. This makes smooth shifting of nerve energy, may be from sensory to motor.
According to Hull, when a stimulus is repeated and response is elicited, the connection becomes strengthened. Eventually it brings about an organization in the nervous system known as habit, otherwise called learning.
The psychological theories explain that habits are acquired dispositions. According to these theories, any learning process or experience gained by an individual is retained. When this learning experience is repeated it is firmly retained. This ability to retain helps us to get it strengthened and becomes a habit.
Types of Habits:
Habits are divided into three types depending upon the nature of activities.
1. Motor habits:
These habits refer to muscular activities of an individual. These are the habits related to our physical actions such as, standing, sitting, running, walking, doing exercise, maintaining particular postures of body, etc.
2. Intellectual habits:
These are the habits related to psychological process requiring our intellectual abilities such as good observation, accurate perception, logical thinking, using of reasoning ability before taking decisions and testing conclusions, etc.
3. Habits of character:
We express some of our characters in the form of habits. For example, helping others who are in need, trusting people, being honest, talking in a friendly way, time management, hard working, keeping our dress clean and tidy, etc. These habits will have essence of feelings and emotions; hence these are also called as emotional habits.
Measures for Effective Habit Formation:
William James, the famous American psychologist has suggested the following measures for habit formation.
a. Make a good start:
‘Good beginning is half done’ is a premise. Accordingly to learn a habit we must make a good start. We should have strong motivation and determination of mind. We should not have oscillation of mind. For example, a nursing student decides to start to study at a fixed time for a fixed length of period. He or she should start as decided and should not hesitate on the first day itself.
b. Keep regular practice:
It is essential to practice the new habit regularly until it becomes a routine in our life. Postponement or interruption should be avoided, because it weakens our habit formation. Example, giving some lame excuse like headache, lack of interest or mood and postpone the work- should be avoided.
c. Choose favourable environment:
Good habit formation depends upon the encouraging atmosphere also. Example, for a student who wants to work hard, there must be a company of hard working students and not lazy fellows who have no interest in studies.
d. Do not stop till the goal is achieved:
Once a habit is formed it is to be strengthened. Hence it should be continued until it is firmly rooted.
Meanwhile we should enjoy the new habit, so that we find more interest to continue practice. For this purpose, we may keep thinking of positive effects of that new habit. Example, understanding the subject matter, scoring good marks, getting good results, achieving good job, etc.