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In psychology, any regularly repeated behaviour that requires little or no thought and is learned rather than innate. Some habits (e.g., tying a shoelace) may conserve higher mental processes for more demanding tasks, but others promote behavioral inflexibility or are unhealthy. Five methods are commonly used to break unwanted habits: replacing the old response with a new one, repeating the behaviour until it becomes unpleasant, separating the individual from the stimulus that prompts the response, habituation, and punishment.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on habit, visit Britannica.com.