Defra - Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Science Search

Science and Research Projects

Return to Science Search homepage   Return to Project List

Habits, Routines and Sustainable Lifestyles - EV0502

This research project provides a summary of findings from an extensive literature review on the role of habit in relation to sustainable behaviours. It sets out the theory on habit from two different perspectives, identifies effective techniques for bringing about habit change, and draws out implications for policy makers and practitioners.

The project aims were to understand:

• What is 'habit' and how is it conceptualised, where does it come from, and how does it influence behaviour?
• What practical approaches are known to change habits, and what evidence exists of effective interventions?
• What pro-environmental behaviours might be considered habitual?
• How are habitual behaviours measured?

The key findings from this work were informed by an expert panel. The research identified three possible approaches for policies aiming to influence a habitual behaviour:

• Target individuals to disrupt the habitual behaviour using group influence and personal goal setting.
• Interact at times when habitual behaviours are likely to be disrupted (links to ‘Moments of Change’).
• Apply the ‘habits tool’ developed through this project to help think through policy alternatives.
The research has highlighted the importance of understanding habit when designing interventions to influence behaviour.
Project Documents
• SUM - Summary Report : Habits, Routines and Sustainable Lifestyles   (1246k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2008

To: 2012

Cost: £135,905
Contractor / Funded Organisations
AD Research and Analysis Ltd
Behaviour change              
Social Research              
Fields of Study
Sustainable Consumption and Production