November 30, 2020

Gen Z Conservative

The thoughts of a young conservative on political issues relevant to all ages

The Power of Habit book cover

The Power of Habit Review

Introduction to The Power of Habit

In case you haven’t noticed from my reviews of books like Rich Habits and The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, I really enjoy reading books about habit. I think it’s fascinating to see how habits work and how we can use those habits to benefit our lives, as is discussed in Your Money or Your Life. But, no book I had read until The Power of Habit discussed the immense psychological power of habits. They had discussed the power those habits have over our lives, but not the mental reasons behind that power.

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The Power of Habit, however, discusses that in depth. Rather than focusing on a smaller aspect of habit, such as investing, it’s author, Charles Duhigg, takes a more holistic approach. And, in my opinion, that holistic approach that covers everything from the marketing campaigns of big business to the exercise routines of fitness junkies, is extremely powerful.


Summary of The Power of Habit

Would you like to understand how you develop or break habits? What about how businesses and individuals are capitalizing on that? Then, you should read The Power of Habit.

In it, Duhigg uses a huge amount of both anecdotal and scientific evidence to show the tremendous amount of power that our habits have over us. Additionally, he uses case studies to show how those habits and the subconscious signals they send us can be taken advantage of. The sum of the book is that Duhigg shows how habits form, why they form and stick with us, and the immense power they have over our lives.

While Duhigg describes many habits and what businesses are doing to take advantage of them, one example was particularly interesting to me. That example was how Target hired a statistician to find out that women were pregnant before they even knew, based on their shopping habits.

The Target Example:

Would you be uncomfortable if a company knew more about you than you did? I know I would be.

But, what if they were able to do so not through data theft or “spying” on you like Big Tech is currently doing, but rather through examing your shopping habits, and then analyzing those habits to determine what was probably going on in your life? In that case, I would be wary, but less uncomfortable.

Well, according to Duhhig, that’s exactly what Target did. They hired a statistician who was able to use the data about the shopping habits of its customers to determine when a woman was pregnant and then send her hyper-targeted advertisements and coupons. And his system worked, boosting profits tremendously! All because he and Target understood the power of habit.

The Power of Habit abounds with examples like that. Buy and read it to discover more of them!

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My Analysis

I loved reading The Power of Habit. Duhigg’s rigorous analysis of the science behind habits and how they form was intriguing, as were the anecdotal examples he used, and the business case studies.

But what I especially liked were the implications of his research. Just imagine the potentially endless returns guaranteed to businesses, and thus those who understand the importance of saving and investing, if businesses are able to harness habit.

The Problem with Harnessing Habit

Obviously, there are problems with businesses analyzing data from their customers and using it to sell those customers more products. Duhigg does analyze that in The Power of Habit, especially when discussing the Target example.

However, the problem isn’t more regulation. Regulations are taxes that destroy competitiveness and profitability. Instead, customers should make the decision. If they don’t want their habits to be analyzed, then they should shop at stores that don’t do that. Based on the ideas in both Atlas Shrugged and Capitalism and Freedom, that’s what I think is the capitalist way.

The Potential of Harnessing Habit

In any case, there is a huge potential to harnessing the power of habit. Businesses will be more profitable. Individuals will be better able to break bad habits and develop new ones. Governments might be better able to understand what is going on and why.

And that’s what I think The Power of Habit is really about; how to understand and then harness habit. Doing so will be difficult, but the potential payoff is well worth it, especially for those in the business or political world, where every advantage is needed to win.

Conclusion

I would recommend The Power of Habit to anyone interested in learning more about themself or those around them. On a related note, I think everyone should be interested in learning about both themself and others. That’s how you become more successful and effective as a person and leader.

Reading it isn’t onerous- it’s a scientific book, but much like The Theory of Everything in that it is written so that the average person can understand it. Furthermore, Duhigg’s writing style, in which he alternates between scientific evidence and anecdotal examples, keeps the reader interested.

Overall, The Power of Habit is an excellent book that is well worth your time. I highly recommend that you read it and I know that you, like I, will get a lot out of it and be glad you took the time to learn about the power of habit.


By: Gen Z Conservative

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