Friday, April 3, 2020

The Power of Habit Book Report- Nikki Lombardi

     The fascinating book titled "The Power of Habit" by Charles Duhigg is a compilation of anecdotes, science, strategies, and explanations revolving around the way habits are formed. The book covers information about our own individual habits, the habits of businesses, the habits of government, the habits behind sports psychology, and the habits behind cultural movements. This captivates the reader by detailing relatable information in some way, shape, or form. Duhigg's ultimate goal in writing this book is to demonstrate that habits dictate most of what goes on in the world around us every day, whether we see it or not. While describing the nature behind the formation of habits, the book also describes strategies and techniques to apply changes to individuals' own habits or the habits within an organization. The key piece of information that is mentioned throughout every chapter is the 3-step loop in which habits operate: the cue, the routine, and the reward. This book includes information that can be beneficial to everyone, being that the main argument is the description of what habits are and how they can be changed.
     A chapter within the book that was one of my favorites was chapter 2, The Craving Brain: How to Create New Habits. This chapter covered information about creating new habits within individuals and how businesses use this to their advantage. A specific topic in this chapter that I was drawn to was the pepsodent toothpaste campaign. In order to sell their toothpaste product, this business had to appeal to a very specific habit loop. The cue triggered was the film people feel across their teeth. The routine was the use of the pepsodent toothpaste. The reward was the pretty teeth and beautiful smile after brushing with the toothpaste. This habit loop was successful among the public and caused the pepsodent toothpaste to boom. It is extremely compelling that a simple habit chain caused such a successful outcome for the company when, in reality, toothpaste does not actually have much of an effect on teeth. However, by learning the right human psychology and putting it to the test, this business created their profit from a simple habit formation of the human nature. It should also be noted that buyers were not even aware of the habit loop they were apart of, but they followed the chain anyway. This shows the true force behind the strategies in altering habits and how businesses have driven their success through it. Overall, this chapter consistently displayed the habit loop in different forms to show how new habits are created among individuals, the strongest of them being the pepsodent toothpaste habit loop. Below is the diagram from the book, displaying the habit loop utilized.
The Story of Toothpaste. How It Became a Mainstream Product (Book ...
     Another chapter within this book that outlined essential information to the overall concept was chapter 4, Keystone Habits, or the Ballad of Paul O' Neill: Which Habits Matter Most. A topic highlighted within this chapter was willpower and how it relates to habits. Willpower is regarded as the single most important keystone habit for individual success, and the best way to strengthen it is to make it into a habit. An experiment was conducted in this chapter that ultimately proved the success of willpower when it becomes a habit. This experiment was with elderly patients who had just undergone hip or knee surgery. The scientist conducting the experiment wanted to see if it was possible to help the patients tackle their willpower. She gave each of them a booklet for them to write down exactly what they were going to do each each week with specific plans. She then compared the recoveries of those who wrote out weekly goals in the booklet to those that didn't. The results proved that the patients who had written plans in their booklets started walking almost twice as fast as the ones who had not. They started getting in and out of their chairs almost three times as fast and doing daily activities much quicker than the other patients. The scientist wanted to understand her results better and further examined the booklets. She noticed that many of the plans had one thing in common, which was that they focused on how patients would handle a specific moment of anticipated pain. In other words, these patients all thought ahead about how to deal with painful inflection points. They deliberately designed willpower habits that allowed them to reach their goals faster. Therefore, when willpower can be turned into a habit, there are higher chances of achieving goals and reaching success. To further prove this point, Colin Robertson on the topic of willpower declared that automating a goal dedication is about setting triggers and reminders of the overall goal. This can be done by following a plan such as writing down goals everyday, sending goal reminders, or increasing self-awareness. This demonstrates how writing down goals can actually strengthen willpower and turn it into a habit. Undoubtedly, this chapter proved that willpower can be turned into a habit , which in turn can be more beneficial for individuals.
     The next chapter within the book that contained prominent information about the utilization of habits was chapter 7, How Target Knows What You Want Before You Do: When Companies Predict (and Manipulate) Habits. The main focus of this chapter was Target and how the company uses its customers' habits to their benefit. While many individuals might not know this, Target knows much more information about their customers than what is suspected. In fact, every shopper has an identification code, known as a Guest ID number, that keeps tabs on how each person shops. Target can then take advantage of this by sending customers specific coupons for items they bought the previous week to get them to keep coming back. On a similar note, Target noticed that their most profitable customers are moms and pregnant women. Having a baby means needing a plentiful amount of diapers, wipes, juice, toilet paper, etc. With that in mind, Target knew they had to focus on these customers to engage their spendings. As mentioned by Charles Duhigg himself in a New York Times article, there are brief periods in a person's life when routines fall apart and buying habits are in flux. One of those moments is right around the birth of a child, when parents are exhausted, overwhelmed, and their shopping patterns and brand loyalties are up for grabs. This is when Target carefully pinpoints the optimal timing to make their move with baby ads. However, in order to do so, Target had to first discover when women were pregnant. Aside from a baby registry, Target created another way in which they could identify when their customers were pregnant. They began going back to observe the shopping habits of moms who had previously had a baby and what they bought during the pregnancy with a pregnancy predictor. From that, patterns were picked up and it was discovered that expectant mothers shop in fairly predictable ways. With that information, Target could then take the list of women who were likely to be pregnant and overload them with advertisements for baby items. In order to make it appear like the company was not spying on pregnant women, they decided to mix in ads for things that pregnant women would never buy to make it look like the baby ads were random. With that tactic, Target determined that the women would use the coupons. Unquestionably, this chapter displayed the truth behind corporate businesses and how they can pinpoint customers' habits to maximize their profits, especially Target.
     Clearly, "The Power of Habit" by Charles Duhigg is filled with information regarding the human habit formation and how it can be changed or put to use in everyday life. I chose to focus on the formation of the habit loop (particularly with pepsodent toothpaste), the habit of willpower, and the importance of customer habit when it comes to corporations (specifically Target). Nevertheless, this book fully details the key information of habit formation, ultimately ending with the idea that humans are responsible for cultivating their own habits and taking charge of their own lives. I personally believe this was an outstanding book and a surprisingly simple and enjoyable read. One would think that a book containing so much research and scientific information would be difficult to understand, but it truthfully wasn't. The information in this book can be easily comprehended and even applied to the reader's own life. The book contained numerous examples, statistics, studies, and stories that made the concepts easier to grasp and fully understand. With the amount of detail in each chapter, I think all readers of this book can take away far more knowledge about habits than they knew before. I really liked how easy the book was to read, how descriptive each chapter was, how understandable the content was, and how the information was relatable. I do not have any complaints about this book and I believe it got the main point across victoriously. Without a doubt, "The Power of Habit" by Charles Duhigg is a highly informative book that can teach any reader about the habits in the world around them.

Duhigg, Charles. “How Companies Learn Your Secrets.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 16 Feb. 2012,
Duhigg, Charles. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do and How to Change. Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2014.
Robertson, Colin. “Willpower and Habits - What Will Truly Help You Achieve Your Goals?” Willpowered, Willpowered, 17 Nov. 2014,

No comments:

Post a Comment