It may be possible to deliberately ‘forget’ long-standing habits, according to new experiments carried out at Regensburg University in Germany.
According to this new research, merely telling yourself to forget about the habit after performing it may prove helpful.
This adds to the techniques for changing habits which have support from psychological research.
Two types of these are:
- Quick reactions: noticing that you are performing a bad habit and changing the response.
- Implementation intentions: making a specific plan in advance about how you are going to behave in a particular situation. For example, if I get hungry between meals, then eat an apple not a cake.
But what about after you’ve performed the habit you want to change? Is there anything you can do then?
In the experiment, participants were taught a habit which involved connections between words and particular responses (Dreisbach & Bäuml, 2014).
Sometimes, though, halfway through learning the habit, participants were casually told to forget what they’d learnt so far.
The results showed that deliberately forgetting about a newly formed habit affected how that habit was performed.
When people were told to forget that habit, they duly did as they were told.
Naturally, this study only tests the procedure in controlled laboratory conditions, rather than in everyday life.
Also, the habits were newly formed, rather than long-standing.
Nevertheless, the technique could prove a useful addition to the other methods of habit change that are well-established.
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→ This post is part of a series on habits:
- How to Banish Bad Habits and Control Temptations
- How to Stop Biting Your Nails
- How Long to Form a Habit?
- Get the First Chapter of ‘Making Habits, Breaking Habits’ for Free
- Happy Habits: How to Fix Bad Moods
- 10 Step Guide for Making Your New Year’s Resolutions
- How to Fight Excessive Doubt
- Can You Be Addicted to Facebook or is it Just a Bad Habit?
- How to Help Other People Change Their Habits
- Habits and The Unexpected Benefits of Weak Self-Control
- Really Easy New Method For Changing Habits