Habit Change

Quick Tips For Changing Your Bad Habits

We can all relate to the fact that changing our most ingrained, routine and  “bad” habits is a tricky business. If we could all behave in the ways that we know we should, then people wouldn’t be seeking help for their problems, addictions would not exist, self-help books wouldn’t be necessary and I certainly wouldn’t be writing this blog post.

But, as I’m sure you’re all very much aware of, the world is not perfect. We become so wrapped up in our lives that we might not even notice the bad habits forming until they become part of your daily routine. Or maybe you did notice and just didn’t have the motivation needed at that time to make a change.

Altering a habit into a more constructive, healthy one is not always an easy path. But it isn’t an impossible one either. By using concepts established from behavioural science, you CAN learn how to understand and therefore change, your less than desirable habits.

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Breaking a Bad Habit? How to Change the Consequences of Your Actions

One of the most popular self-help techniques available is self-monitoring, whereby the act of tracking your behaviour is enough in itself to bring about significant positive changes to your habits (Fredrickson & Losada (2005). See my blog post for more information here. Food diaries and Fitbit are two great examples.

But when your motivation starts to drain away, and that chocolate bar starts to look more appealing, keeping tabs on your progress can quickly go out the window. Fitness apps get deleted and food diaries lie hidden in draws. If that sounds familiar to you, then you might need a little extra incentive to change your behaviour for the better!

Although self-monitoring is a useful tool in turning bad habits around, it is only the tip of the iceberg. A plethora of simple and effective behaviour change tactics awaits!

The methods that I will discuss here all come under the same umbrella category; they aim to alter your habit by first changing the consequences of your behaviour.

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Healthy Eating Goals? Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is!

In a world where instant gratification is king, eating healthily can seem like an impossible task. Supermodel Kate Moss was famously quoted saying “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels”. Clearly, this is not the case for everyone. Obesity rates in the Uk are at an all time high. And it is unlikely that the problem is due to a lack of education. The majority of people can differentiate between healthy and unhealthy foods, yet we still consistently make “bad” food choices (Anderson, Winett, Wojcik, Winett, & Bowden, 2001).

If you are anything like me, the long-term side effects of eating unhealthily can often seem too distant to scare me. Thinking about them doesn’t usually inspire me to make better food choices in that moment. For example, will that pizza taste good when I eat it? Hell yes! Could I gain weight if I continue to make these choices? Probably, but not for a long while yet (I like to think that metabolism can process most of what I throw at it!). And am I more likely to be at risk of health problems? Maybe, but in the future. Even then there is no guarantee that I will get one.

When the negative impact of your actions are uncertain and will only occur later in time, you are likely to continue to do the behaviour that provides instant gratification (see the PIC/NIC Analysis created by Dr. Aubrey Daniels and research by Porritt, M. 2008 for more information). It is understandable then, that we want to overcome this “instant pleasure now, worry about the consequences later” mentality.  But can I stop myself from reaching for the biscuit tin?

Writing a food diary, keeping unhealthy foods out of the house and setting yourself small and achievable goals. These are all popular weight loss tactics.  But you will have probably heard them all before. You may have tried these methods and they just haven’t worked for you.  Or maybe they were just too impractical for you to follow through with. Not everyone has enough time to record everything that they eat!

Behavioural science has the answer. (Or at least, some very good suggestions! Clearly, the path to healthy eating is not a “one size fits all” approach. Otherwise, we would all be our ideal weight.)

If you are looking for a simple, effective and different way to eat more healthily, then read on!

Continue reading Healthy Eating Goals? Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is!

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What is Positive Reinforcement? (Including Examples Approved by Dr. Aubrey Daniels!)

Image courtesy of Wikipedia 

*  I am delighted to announce that this article was written in collaboration with Dr Aubrey Daniels’, the author of “Bringing Out the Best in People” and all-round behaviour expert! Keep reading to discover the examples of positive reinforcement that we explained.

‘Positive Reinforcement’ is a term that is used frequently in the world of psychology and behaviour analysis. But what exactly is it and why should you know about it?

Positive reinforcement is a process which strengthens the type of behaviour that it is applied to. It is a consequence which follows the occurrence of behaviour, just as your actions could be followed by a smile from your friend. This consequence can increase the likelihood of you eliciting a similar response in the future, under the same circumstances. Explained more simply, positive reinforcement means: you do something, then you immediately get something you like and you will be more likely to engage in similar behaviour again in the future under a similar context.

Reinforcement is like the fuel you add to the (metaphorical!) fire to keep a behaviour going.

Continue reading What is Positive Reinforcement? (Including Examples Approved by Dr. Aubrey Daniels!)

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A Fun Way to Show Your Partner that You Care (When a Smile Doesn’t Quite Cut It!)

Love it or loathe it, Valentine’s day will soon be upon us! It is a time of year where couples are actively encouraged to demonstrate their love for each other, through PDA’s, buying a nice meal out or making something special for each other.

If my own V-day plans over the past few years have shown anything, it’s that I am a big fan of slightly alternative (though often food related!) celebrations of love. For example, 2014 was the year that we carved roses onto watermelons.

Continue reading A Fun Way to Show Your Partner that You Care (When a Smile Doesn’t Quite Cut It!)

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*Now Closed* January Facebook Competition (Including T&C’s)

It’s a new year and as promised, I have organised a new competition for you lovely readers.

Why? Because I want to help you to beat the January blues with a little positive reinforcement!

I also wanted to make this an opportunity to get to know you better. I want to know what you would like to see me write about next on this blog. What interests you? Or what could I help you to achieve? Maybe you would like a more lighthearted tone in the next article?

If you are interested in entering this competition, then please head over to my Facebook page
www.facebook.com/BehaviourBabble

And keep reading below for my full terms and conditions!

Full Terms and Conditions.

Open to UK residents aged 16 and over, excluding relatives of the administrator of www.BehaviourBabble.com. Closing date for entries is 23.59 GMT on the 10th of February 2017. Only one entry per person.

One winner will be selected prizes and will receive all of the items as shown in the image within the giveaway promotional post. All items are from the Flying Tiger Copenhagen, but this giveaway is not in collaboration with Tiger.

Entrants must click the Like button and must leave a comment on the Facebook promotional post with a relevant answer to the question within the promotional post “What topic would you like me to write about next on this blog”, one comment per person. The winner will be chosen at random. The winner will be informed by a reply to their comment plus a Facebook message within 1 days of the closing date and will need to respond within 5 days or a new winner will be chosen.

The prizes will be sent within 7 days of the winner confirming their address. The promoter is Behaviour Babble, UK. By participating in this prize draw, entrants confirm they have read, understood and agree to be bound by these terms and conditions.

This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook

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New Year = New Habits: How I Ditched My ASOS Addiction and Committed to Long-term Goals

New Year’s resolutions, love or hate them, someone is bound to ask you if you have made one. With 2016 being quite an interesting year for many, everyone seems to be more determined than usual to make this year great. So what are my plans for this year I hear you say? Oh well since you asked! This year I decided to make a resolution that I could easily commit to. I started to reflect upon which of my habits that I most wanted to change in 2017, using a bit of help from behavioural psychology.

Straight away I knew that one of the most unnecessary outgoing spends that I have is purchasing clothes. The thing is, I never go overboard. Just a £30 dress here or a £20 top there. But over time this creates a dent in my bank account that I really do not need. There are plenty of perfectly nice outfits sitting pretty in my wardrobe. But where does my urge to spend come from? I don’t buy women’s magazines very often and I don’t even have a TV (Thanks laptop and Netflix’s, you are a Godsend!).

Continue reading New Year = New Habits: How I Ditched My ASOS Addiction and Committed to Long-term Goals

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2 Tips for Enjoying a Stress-free Christmas

Christmas is a truly magical time of year. The bright colours, the Christmas movies, presents, family and friends and don’t even get me started on the food! But creating such a magical atmosphere of cheer and joy can actually take a lot of work. Decorations don’t hang themselves.  Numerous cards need to be written. Before too long you can find yourself with an endless to-do list, muttering “bah humbug” under your breath.

So here are two techniques which I use to help me when I feel overwhelmed by my Christmassy chores and I just want to get them done.

Continue reading 2 Tips for Enjoying a Stress-free Christmas

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Christmas Giveaway! Inc T&C’s *Now Closed

*** This competition is now closed. Check back for more competitions to come in the new year***

December is here! Christmas is on the way (three Monday’s away in fact!) and I am feeling particularly festive this year. Why? Because my blog has reached it’s very first birthday. This marks one year of blogging and one year of me developing content to spread the word about behaviour analysis to you lovely readers. It means a lot to me to be able to share my passion for this approach and to inspire other people with it.

So as a festive thank you to my readers, I wanted to ask you a question.

Do you like to get free stuff for answering an Xmas themed question about behaviour? Well if you do, you are welcome to enter my competition which is taking place over on my Facebook page!

Good luck to everyone who takes part and I will be revealing the correct answer shortly after the giveaway on the Facebook page, for those who are curious.

Full Terms and Conditions.

Open to UK residents aged 16 and over, excluding relatives of the administrator of www.BehaviourBabble.com. Closing date for entries is 23.59 GMT on the 9th December 2016. Only one entry per person.

There will be 4 prizes per winner. Each winner will receive one bag of chocolate Santas and one randomly selected Christmas item (as shown in the image within the giveaway promotional post). All items are from the Flying Tiger Copenhagen and are of a similar value. This giveaway is not in collaboration with Tiger.

Entrants must click the Like button and must leave a comment on the Facebook promotional post at with the correct answer to the question within the promotional post, one comment per person. The winners (who have answered the promotional post question correctly) will be chosen at random. The winner will be informed by a reply to their comment plus a Facebook message within 1 days of the closing date and will need to respond within 3 days or a new winner will be chosen.

The prizes will be sent within 7 days of the winner confirming their address. The promoter is Behaviour Babble, UK. By participating in this prize draw, entrants confirm they have read, understood and agree to be bound by these terms and conditions.

This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook

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How to strengthen your relationship: Help your partner to understand you better!

The other day I was feeling particularly excited. Not because something momentous had happened. I hadn’t won the lottery, bought a puppy or treated myself to a pizza. No, this was particularly geeky brand of excitement. The kind that only comes about when you have studied a subject that barely anyone else has heard of (Behaviour analysis, I’m looking at you!) and someone you love attempts to understand it. In a moment that took me completely by surprise, not only did they try to learn about it, in the way that my friends smile and politely ask “So you do something with psychology, right?”. This gem of a person went one step further. They showed me that they could define something, a psychological concept, which had impacted upon our behaviour on that very same day.  Cue me squealing and dancing on the spot  like I’d just been told I was going to Disneyland. The things I get excited about on a Tuesday night eh? But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Who is this amazing human being, who learned how to understand our behaviour and used this knowledge to help our relationship run more smoothly?  As the title suggests, it is none other than my long-suffering boyfriend! Let’s call him Aiden.

Carry on reading to find out what he learned and how you too can use it to strengthen your own relationship!

Continue reading How to strengthen your relationship: Help your partner to understand you better!