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Thread: Habits. Cause and effect.

  1. #1 Habits. Cause and effect. 
    Forum Radioactive Isotope skeptic's Avatar
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    Reference. New Scientist, 2 August 2014, page 28

    We all have habits. For example : when we get into the car to drive to work, we follow a habitual route. We do not have to think about it . Driving that route is automatic. So why do we drive that route and not some other? We tell ourselves that it is because it is quicker, or there are fewer traffic lights, or it is more scenic. But is that reason truly the reason, or simply a rationalisation? It appears that the latter is frequently true. We drive a route the first time out of chance, and then drive it habitually, telling ourselves it is for that specific and very good reason, when it is not.

    People with obsessive compulsive disorder have this tendency in an even more pronounced way. The authors of the item above claim that the OCD people develop the habit first, and then come up with the justification. An OCD person who compulsively washes his/her hands all the time will tell you that it is due to a fear of germs. But there is evidence to suggest that the habit came first and the rationalisation later.

    Are we truly, as the saying goes, not rational animals, but rationalising animals?


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  3. #2  
    Northern Horse Whisperer Moderator scheherazade's Avatar
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    At a guess and from observing the animals that I work with, I would suggest that when learning any new skill, we must first cross the threshold of apprehension, be it self doubt or fear from without. When we do so successfully, it is simplest to repeat a behavior that has accomplished our objective safely. If a repeated behavior remains safe and perhaps even offers a reward of some sort, we will likely continue to utilize it until it becomes more challenging simply because it allows us to conserve energy.

    To utilize a new strategy is a challenge, requiring more planning, energy and testing.

    I used to always drive home by a series of back avenues to avoid the morning traffic. As the time of my shift ending changed, I had a new option but it also has a school zone that must be respected and a lot of crosswalks. On Sundays, I will take Second Avenue because traffic is very light and there are no school zones and fewer pedestrian crossings. Over time I have evolved several strategies which save me time and energy as well as provide the safest and most direct route to whatever my objective may be. This has also been useful when there has been extended periods of construction on some of our main traffic routes.

    For me, it is safety first, time and energy next. I know that I am sometimes tired at the end of graveyard shift and do not want to place myself in challenging situations where I may pose a danger to others as well as myself.


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  4. #3  
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    We drive a route the first time out of chance, and then drive it habitually, telling ourselves it is for that specific and very good reason, when it is not.

    We do? That alone I find a bit surprising.
    Meteorologist/Naturalist & Retired Soldier
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  5. #4  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope cosmictraveler's Avatar
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    I always use my GPS to find the quickest way to where I'm going but before I used maps.
    When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace.
    Jimi Hendrix
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    My pickup doesn't have a GPS, so I still use maps. Usually try at least a couple routes and often vary them depending on the situation. For example, to get on the Army post (before I retired), I had two routes, both taking about the same amount of time--a short back roads route which I drove during the day, pitch black, or during rush hour--a longer highway route I took in bad weather or around dawn/dusk when there were more deer and elk moving.

    I also consolidate trips so seldom need to leave the home to pick up just one or two items--that alone saves a lot of gas but requires a good number of routes.

    --
    I wonder how much GPS reinforces the habit of taking and sticking to one route all the time--worrisome because GPS often don't work very well--they lead people to about a 1/4 mile from my current home and seem to strongly prefer the most gas-guzzling routes (highway). I know because my wife's car is Garmin equipped.
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  7. #6  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope cosmictraveler's Avatar
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    I have an after market Pioneer GPS for my car. It was under 1000.00 US and works just fine. It has a radio as well. The unit tells me of any road problems on my trip and asks me if I want to re-route or not. It also shows traffic that is slow ahead and again asks if I want to change routes. It has always placed me within yards of my destination never. The womans voice is very calming and distinct and comes on over the radio by lowering the radio volume so that I can hear her just fine.

    I'd recommend that anyone should look into an after market GPS system like my Pioneer for it is worth its weight in gold. Oh yes if you go by your destination it just tells you how to turn around and go back without yelling at you.
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