作者: Moya Sarner/卫报 / 1780次阅读 时间: 2018年1月08日
来源: 陈明编译 标签: 习惯 阻抗
Anyone can change any habit’: the science of keeping your 2018 resolutions
Moya Sarner/卫报
陈明编译心理学空间/RCSZ'L X1F5l }

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Living a healthier lifestyle isn’t always down to sheer willpower – it can be as simple as forming new habits. But how do we do that?心理学空间!uqa,h`-g8h n



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,ER1Y3|0Q(g ^Q0Last year, my New Year resolution was to go for a run first thing every morning. It started well: 1 January was a great success. On 2 January, though, I hit snooze and went back to sleep. I tried to get it going again, I really did – I even wore my gym clothes to bed – but nothing worked.

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This year, I’ve resolved to wean myself off scrolling mindlessly through social media on my phone, but when it comes to making resolutions – or, rather, breaking them – it feels as though there are forces at work far stronger than my willpower. I know I’m not alone in that; if I were, there wouldn’t be nearly 6,000 books on Amazon under the category “self help – habits”, nor so many psychologists researching the subject. So, could they help me keep my resolution this year?




+|C"^.U N0Charles Duhigg, the author of The Power of Habit, certainly thinks so. He tells me there is “a ton of research” to show that New Year resolutions are an effective way to make changes: they create a sense of expectation and ceremony, while the link to a particular day helps to fit our experiences into a narrative of before and after, which makes change more likely. “There are people who will decide on 1 January to lose two stone and who will keep it off for the rest of their lives, others who have been smoking two packs a day for over a decade who will decide to quit and who will still not smoke this time next year,” he says. “Anyone can change any habit; it doesn’t matter how old you are or how deeply ingrained that behaviour is. But that doesn’t mean – as everyone knows – that New Year resolutions are consistently successful.

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When our New Year resolutions fail, we berate ourselves for our weak self-discipline; we tell ourselves our willpower wasn’t strong enough, as though we are a marathon runner who couldn’t make it to the finish line. The image of a self-control muscle that gets tired over time, first proposed by the social psychologist Roy Baumeister in the late 90s, has shaped our collective consciousness.心理学空间 ^ @1hC&Pq

iJ7UF jkv0当我们的新年决心失败之后,我们痛斥自己孱弱的自律;认为自己的意志力不够坚强,仿佛我们是一个不能到达终点的马拉松运动员。社会心理学家罗伊·鲍迈斯特于90年代后期提出的自我损耗理论的概念认为,自我控的力量会随着时间的推移而疲劳。这个概念塑造了我们的集体意识


!D%r ~maJ2W0But a new generation of psychologists, unable to replicate the studies that proved his theory of “ego depletion”, are questioning this model. They are exploring other factors that might determine whether individuals can stick to their goals, including their motivation and environment, explains Katharina Bernecker, a postdoctoral researcher at Leibniz-Institut in Tübingen, south-west Germany. “The idea of a limited resource is about a capacity or an ability – you can or you can’t – whereas motivation is something that fluctuates. We’re searching for a new theory that tells us more about this process,” she says.心理学空间z"W*nfx0Nf:wo.^


南加州大学的心理学和商学教授Wendy Wood认为,把新年决心的鸡蛋都放在意志力这唯一的篮子里,才是我们错误的根源。尽管研究表明,自制力持久的人往往更善于实现自己的目标——如果他们有动机做好工作,他们就会有所表现。她解释说,如果自制力持久的人想过一种健康的生活方式,他们就会更多的锻炼——这并非因为他们用意志力来控制自己的行为,事实上,这是因为他们找到了解决问题的方法。Wood说:“这些人获得高分,在于他们控制自己行为的能力、以及抵制诱惑的能力”。但是,“有趣的是,事情并不是因为这些而起作用”。

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Putting all our New Year resolution eggs in a willpower basket is exactly where we are going wrong, suggests Wendy Wood, provost professor of psychology and business at the University of Southern California. Although studies show that people who have a lot of self-control tend to be good at meeting their goals – if they are motivated to do well at work, they get promoted; if they want to live a healthy lifestyle, they exercise more – it isn’t because they use their willpower to control their behaviour, she explains. In fact, it is because they find a way around it. These individuals score highly on scales that measure their ability to control their actions and resist temptation, but “the interesting thing is that it doesn’t work that way”, Wood says. “What we’ve learned is that people with high self-control are not going through these white-knuckle struggles to eat better, exercise more or work harder. Instead, what they do is form habits. They automate their behaviours that get them to their goals, so they perform them without even thinking about it. That’s what makes them so successful.” It isn’t about willpower; it is about habits.心理学空间k/{!W_{ E(j

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南加州大学的心理学和商学教授Wendy Wood认为,把新年决心的鸡蛋都放在意志力这唯一的篮子里,才是我们错误的根源。尽管研究表明,自制力持久的人往往更善于实现自己的目标——如果他们有动机做好工作,他们就会有所表现。她解释说,如果自制力持久的人想过一种健康的生活方式,他们就会更多的锻炼——这并非因为他们用意志力来控制自己的行为,事实上,这是因为他们找到了解决问题的方法。Wood说:“这些人获得高分,在于他们控制自己行为的能力、以及抵制诱惑的能力”。但是,“有趣的是,事情并不是因为这些而起作用”。我们学到的是,自我控制能力很强的人并没有修通这些令人极度紧张的争斗,并因此吃得香,锻炼得更多,工作更努力。相反,他们所做的就是养成习惯。他们自动化的行为使得他们达到了自己的目标,所以,他们甚至在未加以思考这些之前,就执行这些自动化的行为了。这就是他们成功的原因:“这不是意志力,而是习惯。”心理学空间 Wp8Nk;ngV$v


This epiphany is what turned Gretchen Rubin, the author of the bestselling blockbuster Better Than Before, into the US’s happiness queen. “Habits are freeing and energising and really powerful. If there’s something you want to do consistently in your life – like New Year resolutions – habits can make the wear and tear on following through so much easier. They get us out of the tiresome business of making decisions and using our self-control.”


y(_}e0{#W^0这一顿悟让畅销书《比从前更好》的作者Gretchen Rubin成为了美国的“快乐女王”。 “习惯是自由和活力,并且真得很强大。如果你想在生活中做一些事情——比如新年决心——习惯会让随之而来的损耗变得容易得多。他们使我们摆脱了做决定和使用自制力时的烦恼。”心理学空间3tk"f*w ~i(f

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Rubin speaks with the authority of a woman who has honed her lifestyle by knowing her weaknesses and how to overcome them: “I don’t have to decide to get up at 6am – that’s a habit for me, on autopilot,” she says.

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-D iZ0`SfF0So, what makes a habit? First, says Bas Verplanken, professor of psychology at the University of Bath, they are automatic, occurring as part of our daily flow. “If going to the gym is a conscious decision, we’re vulnerable, because we have a fantastic capacity to rationalise why we should not go – we’re very, very good at that. Habits protect you against thinking,” he says. Second, they are triggered by cues in the environment, such as time or place. Third, every habit has a reward: when our brain starts to anticipate and crave the reward, it makes the behaviour automatic.

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aK5t e4E0巴斯大学的心理学教授Bas Verplanken说:“如果决定去健身房是意识上的事情,那么,我们就孱弱了,因为我们有一种奇妙的能力来解释为什么我们不应该去——比如,我们还不错,非常好。 惯常的行为会保护你不去思考”。那么,是什么造就了习惯呢?首先,习惯都是自动发生的,是我们日常流程的一部分。第二,习惯经由环境中的线索触发,例如时间或地点。第三,每个习惯都有一个回报:当我们的大脑开始期待并渴望奖励时,它就会让行为自然发生。

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Thanks to the boom in research in the field in the past decade, Duhigg tells me, “we’ve seen a golden age in understanding the neurology and psychology of habit formation”. In the first half of the 19th century, psychology research focused solely on observable behaviour – as opposed to what Verplanken calls “what is going on under the hood” – a period known as the behaviourist revolution, led by the psychologist BF Skinner. This was followed by the cognitive revolution, which investigated how we think, as opposed to how habits work, which entails investigating how we can avoid thinking. “It’s only since the turn of this century that we’ve started to realise that the brain is actually made up of multiple systems that are connected, but somewhat separate as well,” says Wood. “One of these is a neural system that learns in a habit way and this is represented in our behaviour in terms of automaticity. All of a sudden, habits started to gain credibility.”心理学空间3g%MT5YPT

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`0~sCo R0It was neuroscientists who brought habits on to psychology’s radar, since brain scans cast light on mechanisms unfolding in the deepest, darkest recesses of the brain, identifying which parts are activated as a behaviour becomes habitual. “As we repeat actions, we engage different aspects of our neural system and you can actually see habit formation taking place in the brain,” says Wood. “When you have people in scanners, activation starts in the decision-making areas of the brain – the prefrontal cortex and the hippocampus. Over time, as you repeat a behaviour and keep getting that reward, activation shifts more to the basal ganglial areas, particularly the putanem, because we’re no longer thinking actively; instead, we’re responding based on habit.” Wood’s research shows that 43% of what we do every day is performed out of habit. “It’s a shortcut – if you do what you did before, in this context, you’ll get the reward that you got before,” she says.

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神经科学家把习惯放在了心理学雷达的探测之中。大脑扫描让人们了解了大脑最深、最黑暗角落未展现的机制,并且识别了行为成为习惯之时所激活的脑区。Wood说:“当我们做重复动作时,我们神经系统的各个方面建立了链接,同时,你可以真切地看到习惯在大脑之中的形成过程。当扫描人们大脑的时候,大脑中的决策区域——前额叶皮层和海马就被激活了。随着时间的推移,当你重复一个行为并持续的得到奖励后,激活区域更多的转移到了基底核区域,尤其是壳核部位,因为我们不再积极思考了;相应的,我们是基于习惯而做出了反应。”Wood的研究表明,我们每天43%的所作所为都只是出于习惯。她说:“这是一条捷径——如果你做了以前做过的事,在如此的情景之中,你会得到以前得到的奖励。”心理学空间2C})N:Wo @

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These insights have significant implications for our New Year resolutions, says Duhigg. “Every habit has three components: the cue, the routine itself and the reward. A huge part of understanding how to change or control your habits is diagnosing the cues and, most importantly, the reward that routine delivers to you,” he says. I cast him in the role of my personal resolution consultant and ask what I need to do to break my phone habit. “The first thing is the terminology,” he says. “Breaking a habit is almost impossible. Once the neural pathways are set with cue, routine and reward, they are there to stay.” Rather than thinking in terms of breaking a bad habit, he says, I need to change my habit by finding a new routine that corresponds to the old cue, one that will deliver whatever reward I am getting from it currently.



Ja.Un5J(J"j`0I figure out that my cue is flopping on to the sofa after a long day, but I can’t pinpoint what reward it gives me. I suppose there is a voyeuristic pleasure in looking at my friends’ photos on Facebook and I’m interested by articles linked to on Twitter. This is a good start, says Duhigg. “You can easily change this habit; you just need to spend some time experimenting with other routines to see what can deliver something similar to that old reward,” he says.

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我发现我的线索就是在沙发上窝一整天,但是我无法确定它给了我什么奖励。我猜想,当我在Facebook上看我的朋友们的照片时,我是有偷窥的快感的。而且我对Twitter上的文章感兴趣。Duhigg说,这是一个好的开始。他说:“你可以很容易地改变这个习惯。只需要花些时间去尝试其他的例行日程,看看什么能给你带来相同的回报。”心理学空间 G(MwB:Y0y s.I m9i


For Rubin, the answer is more complex. “There is no magic, one-size-fits-all solution. Otherwise, we would have figured it out,” she says. In her book The Four Tendencies, she divides people into categories based on how we respond to inner and outer expectations (there is a quiz on her website, if you are intrigued). She says we need to tap into our own tendency to learn how to best stick to our habits. She diagnoses me as an Obliger – someone who meets outer expectations, but resists inner expectations; sounds about right – and suggests that the reason I failed so miserably (not her words) at keeping my running resolution last year could be that I had no outer accountability. Had I arranged to meet a friend for runs, turning inner expectations into outer, I might have been more successful. She also questions why I decided to run early in the morning when I usually exercise in the evening and why I chose running when I prefer exercise classes. Now, I realise why it went wrong: I didn’t know myself.心理学空间/}xrP9s6kq;c L



fj }2?\F.Q'm&J0I wonder if this is the root of most failed New Year resolutions. The difficulty making or changing habits then becomes a more profound question of why we can’t make ourselves do the things we want or stop ourselves from doing the things we don’t. According to David Bell, a psychoanalyst and consultant psychiatrist at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, the answer is resistance. “One thing Freud put on the map is that we’re all much more resistant to change than we like to believe,” he says. Resistance is what happens when our unconscious holds us back from making the changes we consciously desire. Resolving to behave differently won’t help, he says; what can help is trying to figure out why we are the way we are.

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wT-`0q.U-\1R B0我想知道,大多数新年决心的失败是否都根源于此。那么制定或改变习惯的困难就成了一个更为深刻的问题,即为什么我们不能做自己想做的事,或者做自己没去做的事。根据塔维斯托克的心理分析师兼顾问精神病学家David Bell的说法,答案是阻抗。“弗洛伊德最具盛名的一个说法是,我们对变革的阻抗比我们的信念更顽固”他说。当我们的潜意识阻止我们做出有意识的改变时,阻抗便发生了。他说,不同的解决行为不会有帮助,可以帮助我们的是找出,我们何以如此。心理学空间*n} V4P(x7y EoP]&p8[

In$T1rAe:G6t6H0“Sometimes people are very fearful of others for reasons they don’t understand,” he says. “That tendency in their character is not going to be dealt with by deciding not to be frightened of other people – they need to understand the roots of that and that takes more time.”心理学空间@X E-\t"d9I

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This is why thinking of personal growth as a neurological habit loop to be hacked doesn’t sit well with Bell. “It might be helpful for some people, but I think human beings have a rich subjective life, some of it conscious, a lot more less conscious,” he says. “To me, this sounds like treating your own mind as if it’s a machine that needs correction. I think that mechanical way of thinking about the self is alienating to individuals.”心理学空间:~:R9PL6ACq

mZY1]5?}&_rF6A0He sees a darker side to this kind of self-improvement strategy, describing a cultural shift that has intensified over the past 20 years, in which there is an increasing pressure, he says, “to think of individuals just as individuals, not as people in a network of social, cultural, historical relationships that are determining and affecting them. That goes hand in hand with a wish to transfer all responsibility to change on to the individuals themselves – and with undermining systems of social and medical welfare that form the basis of our way of thinking about our responsibilities for each other.”心理学空间Tj?4M%H5M



K(| @ d?0Am I any more likely, I ask Verplanken, to be able to stick to my New Year resolution today than I would have been 100 years ago, given all these advances in psychology? His answer surprises me. “Human nature is, in essence, not very different from 100 years ago – we are wired in the same way,” he says. “We like to think that we are progressing – and we are in all kinds of ways – but human nature doesn’t change.”心理学空间u2Q6[/g}

X%j%@!VQ6}Z.m l$F0我问Verplanken,鉴于所有这些心理学的进展,我是不是有更多的可能,能够比100年前的我更能坚持自己的新年决心?他的回答令我吃惊。“从本质上说,人性与100年前没有区别,我们建立联系的方式都是一样的。”他说,“我们很高兴地认为我们正在进步,我们进步的方式各种各样,但人性并没有改变。”

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}i8pk@0Yet I have felt something shift after speaking to these experts. Why do I reach for my phone every evening? Because I need to escape my stressful day and it is an easy way out – it brings relief. So, I am following Duhigg’s advice and experimenting with different behaviours that could give me the same reward – watching TV, reading a novel, listening to a podcast – and I am also, as Bell suggests, trying to explore more deeply why I get so anxious in the first place.


是的,和这些专家交谈过后,我感到一些变化。为什么我每天晚上都要拿起手机?因为我需要摆脱一天的压力,看手机是一个简便的办法——它带来了解脱。所以,我遵循Duhigg的建议,尝试不同的、可以给我带来同样回报的行为:看电视、看小说、听播客。同样,我也遵循Bell的建议,试图更深入地探讨为什么我一开始就如此焦虑心理学空间 Z_8@`\D

x5P0K i8`-pa U0I hope that, eventually, this will enable me to connect better with myself and with my loved ones, instead of choosing to disconnect from the world. It is ambitious, as New Year resolutions go, but I am feeling optimistic.



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