Haley Scholars Fall 2012 Reading Groups
By Cindy Lyles
Chapter Two, “The Craving Brain,” of The Power of Habit explores how to create new habits. Duhigg discusses Claude Hopkins, the first advertising guru. His prominence grew as a result of his learning how to introduce a new craving to consumers for whatever product he promoted. “Quaker Oats, Goodyear tires, the Bissell carpet sweeper,” Pepsodent toothpaste, and other products all became international household names as a result (32).
Clearly defining a cue (or trigger) and reward (or the payoff for the routine) for the audience fueled Hopkins’s advertising methods. Business schools and firms across the nation employed the technique, including Proctor & Gamble as they introduced Febreze. However, consumers failed to recognize smelly odors in their homes—a specific cue—if they had grown used to them.
How did the ideas about cues and triggers affect your views of habit formation?
I was profoundly affected by it. It's absolutely amazing to think about the cues as something so powerful and yet so simple. If these cues or signals are sent often enough, behavior will be almost triggered. It reminds me of behaviorism in a way. There are specific cues or stimuli that create a conditioned response. However, the idea is also a little frightening to realize that others, as well as ourselves could use that power.
To be honest, it alarmed me. It instantly made me start reflecting upon my own behaviors. I began pondering, what habits to I have, and what are their triggers, and rewards? I was shocked by the list I discovered. The cues that signal and form habits begin to happen under our radar; there they are undetected and reoccurring. We become conditioned, much like Pavlov’s dog and the bell. The bell triggered the dog to salivate, and want the food. The reward was the food. A small trigger, as irrelevant as a bell, controlled a dog’s entire response. The bell, in a way, controlled his body. We must be careful of what is influencing our behaviors, and controlling them without us even knowing. We also must examine if the reward is truly a reward, or rather a damaging consequence of a damaging behavior.
Food for thought: What response is music that discusses hyper sexuality, violence, or drug usage eliciting? Is it affecting people without them realizing it? Is it a triggering habit forming behaviors?
I was a bit appalled by the fact that we can be so easily manipulated. consumers are basically tricked into thinking that there are certain things that needed in order to live a good life, when really we are spending our money on things not necessities.
Being a psychology minor and having taken many courses that explore behaviors and habits that form certain behaviors I was not entirely shocked. Being AWARE of these stimuli that trigger certain habits is the issue. People are ignorant to this dynamic, people are in denial of this dynamic, people ignore this dynamic, and some people simply disregard negative results of the stimuli they KNOW are causing damaging effects. However, reading about the reality of cues, triggers, and habits is very enlightening and opens eyes. I think if concepts like “how easily it is to become conditioned to certain stimuli” were made more aware to people, or taught to everyone, they would be much more conscious of their ability to be able to control certain negative behaviors, and ultimately habits.
I was very intrigued by this concept of cues and triggers. From reading this it also made me ponder on what cues, triggers, and rewards I see in my life along with make me question the morals of those individuals that prey on consumers who buy what they do not need or necessarily have the usage for.
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