To break a habit, timing’s everything

When angry, we are often advised to ‘hold your breath and count to ten’ to prevent a rash response. Could a similar time conflict underlie the expression of unwanted habits? A new study in Nature Human Behaviour shows that habits can be provoked with greater time pressure, but are overridden if an individual is given sufficient time to prepare.

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Correspondence to Alaa A. Ahmed.

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Courter, R.J., Ahmed, A.A. To break a habit, timing’s everything. Nat Hum Behav 3, 1244–1245 (2019).

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