Welcome to the Habit Lab at the University of Amsterdam

The Habit Lab was founded by Sanne de Wit at the Department of Clinical Psychology at the University of Amsterdam. Our mission is to bridge the gap between fundamental research into habits and behavior change interventions.

Interdisciplinary approach
To gain insight into the psychological and neural processes underlying the making and breaking of habits, we adopt an interdisciplinary approach. Experimental research is combined with neuroimaging and real-life (habit tracking) diary research, in the general population and in mental disorders.

The role of habits in mental disorders
Some people are more creatures of habit than others. Does a tendency to rely on habits (as opposed to flexible, goal-directed control) contribute to the development and maintenance of addictive and compulsive behaviours, e.g. in substance abuse, behavioural addiction and obsessive-compulsive disorder?

Habit-based interventions
Merely formulating a goal is generally insufficient to achieve behavior change. There is a gap between intentions and behavior. How can we help people to act on their good intentions and achieve healthier behaviours? We study evidence-based habit-based interventions, that have been informed by theories and research into habits. Recent examples are research into medication adherence, lifestyle habits (diet and exercise), and reducing excessive social media use.

External triggers of reward seeking
Reward-associated stimuli in the environment can influence our behaviour via learnt associations independent of our current motivation. To gain a better understanding of such external stimulus control over behaviour, we investigate the interaction between Pavlovian and instrumental processes.

For specific questions about our research, please email: s.dewit@uva.nl