Harnessing the habitual mind. Psychologist & behavioral scientist, Wendy Wood, PhD

“Wendy Wood is widely recognized as the authority on the science of habits…” -Adam Grant

It’s no mystery to most of you that poor health behaviors such as smoking, substance abuse, poor nutrition, lack of exercise and patient non-compliance account for a substantial portion of the disease burden, not to mention costs, in the US. Some recent estimates by the CDC and other researchers suggest behaviors account for 40-50% of increased risk associated with deaths before age 75.

The problems are clear. What to do about them isn’t. There’s no “will power” medication to prescribe, and most public health efforts thus far have barely made a dent. But what if old fashioned will power really isn’t the issue? What if something researchers call “introspection illusion,” is causing us to overestimate our own will power, and underestimate the capacities of others?

Today’s guest is psychologist and behavioral scientist, Wendy Wood. She is currently a professor of psychology and business at the University of Southern California, and a visiting professor at the INSEAD Business School in Paris. Wendy has spent much of her career studying what she considers the very building blocks of behavioral change, something we all know as habits. Angela Duckworth describes her as “the world’s foremost expert in the field.” And according to Adam Grant, she is “widely recognized as the authority on the science of habits,”

We’ll explore her research and recent book, “Good Habits, Bad Habits.” Our conversation also touches on what’s commonly called, the replication and reproducibility crisis. Wendy has a unique lens on this issue, having served as one of fifteen distinguished scientists chosen by the American Academy of Sciences to study the problem.

This was a fun episode with a lot of ground covered. With that said, let’s get started…

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