Habits are hard to break. Once we become accustomed to a certain behaviour it’s very difficult to change it willingly or to be persuaded to do so. Dan Ariely, who devoted a lot of research to this subject (for more read the excellent Predictably Irrational), has a very interesting article on the UK version of the magazine Wired. Here’s an excerpt:

And so we’ve seen such changes as higher savings rates, an end to “sleep shopping” and hyper-preoccupation with getting more bang for one’s buck. This, of course, has made it that much harder for marketers, as the advertising methods that worked on last year’s shoppers are no longer good enough. And the million-dollar question: how long will current consumer behaviour last?

Is it permanent or will the economy’s recovery (whenever that maybe) reverse it? A look at behavioural economics suggests that, although not permanent, these changes are for the long haul. As it turns out, we truly are creatures of habit. We pick a pattern of behaviour and, without thinking too much about its wisdom, we stick to it. We rethink this habit only when we have a very good reason to change our ways.

Read the rest of the article here.