Strategic if-then plans, also known as ‘implementation intentions’ have been shown to support the formation of habits, for instance in the domains of a healthy diet and exercise. In the present study we investigated whether this efficiency comes at the expense of behavioral flexibility. Learned habits that have been stamped in through repetition are rigid, but is the same true for planned habits? Our findings suggest that indeed there may be a loss of flexibility. This may apply especially to situations in which the contingencies between behavior and outcomes are complex, with implementation intentions shifting the attention to simple stimulus-response associations.
Reference: Van Timmeren, T., & de Wit, S. (2022). Instant habits versus flexible tenacity: Do implementation intentions accelerate habit formation? Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology.