The Power of Habit

by

Charles Duhigg

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In the habit loop, the cue is the familiar stimulus that triggers someone to start a routine. For instance, anxiety might be a smoker’s cue to light up.

Cue Quotes in The Power of Habit

The The Power of Habit quotes below are all either spoken by Cue or refer to Cue. For each quote, you can also see the other terms and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Habits, Human Behavior, and Success Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Random House edition of The Power of Habit published in 2014.
Chapter 1 Quotes

Over time, this loop—cue, routine, reward; cue, routine, reward—becomes more and more automatic. The cue and reward become intertwined until a powerful sense of anticipation and craving emerges. Eventually, whether in a chilly MIT laboratory or your driveway, a habit is born.

Related Characters: Charles Duhigg (speaker)
Page Number: 19
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 2 Quotes

This explains why habits are so powerful: They create neurological cravings. Most of the time, these cravings emerge so gradually that we’re not really aware they exist, so we’re often blind to their influence. But as we associate cues with certain rewards, a subconscious craving emerges in our brains that starts the habit loop spinning.

Related Characters: Charles Duhigg (speaker), Wolfram Schultz , Julio
Page Number: 47-48
Explanation and Analysis:

Each change was designed to appeal to a specific, daily cue: Cleaning a room. Making a bed. Vacuuming a rug. In each one, Febreze was positioned as the reward: the nice smell that occurs at the end of a cleaning routine. Most important, each ad was calibrated to elicit a craving: that things will smell as nice as they look when the cleaning ritual is done. The irony is that a product manufactured to destroy odors was transformed into the opposite. Instead of eliminating scents on dirty fabrics, it became an air freshener used as the finishing touch, once things are already clean.

Related Characters: Charles Duhigg (speaker), Drake Stimson
Page Number: 54
Explanation and Analysis:

Dabbing a bit of sunscreen on your face each morning significantly lowers the odds of skin cancer. Yet, while everyone brushes their teeth, fewer than 10 percent of Americans apply sunscreen each day. Why?
Because there’s no craving that has made sunscreen into a daily habit. Some companies are trying to fix that by giving sunscreens a tingling sensation or something that lets people know they’ve applied it to their skin. They’re hoping it will cue an expectation the same way the craving for a tingling mouth reminds us to brush our teeth.

Related Characters: Charles Duhigg (speaker), Claude C. Hopkins
Page Number: 59
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 3 Quotes

His coaching strategy embodied an axiom, a Golden Rule of habit change that study after study has shown is among the most powerful tools for creating change. Dungy recognized that you can never truly extinguish bad habits.
Rather, to change a habit, you must keep the old cue, and deliver the old reward, but insert a new routine.
That’s the rule: If you use the same cue, and provide the same reward, you can shift the routine and change the habit. Almost any behavior can be transformed if the cue and reward stay the same.

Related Characters: Charles Duhigg (speaker), Tony Dungy
Page Number: 62
Explanation and Analysis:

Notice how closely this study hews to the Golden Rule of habit change: Even when alcoholics’ brains were changed through surgery, it wasn’t enough. The old cues and cravings for rewards were still there, waiting to pounce. The alcoholics only permanently changed once they learned new routines that drew on the old triggers and provided a familiar relief.

Related Characters: Charles Duhigg (speaker)
Related Symbols: Brain Scans and Studies
Page Number: 73
Explanation and Analysis:

Often, we don’t really understand the cravings driving our behaviors until we look for them.

Related Characters: Charles Duhigg (speaker)
Page Number: 77
Explanation and Analysis:

How do habits change?
There is, unfortunately, no specific set of steps guaranteed to work for every person. We know that a habit cannot be eradicated—it must, instead, be replaced. And we know that habits are most malleable when the Golden Rule of habit change is applied: If we keep the same cue and the same reward, a new routine can be inserted.
But that’s not enough. For a habit to stay changed, people must believe change is possible. And most often, that belief only emerges with the help of a group.

Related Characters: Charles Duhigg (speaker)
Page Number: 92
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 4 Quotes

What most people didn’t realize, however, was that O’Neill’s plan for getting to zero injuries entailed the most radical realignment in Alcoa’s history. The key to protecting Alcoa employees, O’Neill believed, was understanding why injuries happened in the first place. And to understand why injuries happened, you had to study how the manufacturing process was going wrong. To understand how things were going wrong, you had to bring in people who could educate workers about quality control and the most efficient work processes, so that it would be easier to do everything right, since correct work is also safer work.
In other words, to protect workers, Alcoa needed to become the best, most streamlined aluminum company on earth.

Related Characters: Charles Duhigg (speaker), Paul O'Neill
Page Number: 106
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 5 Quotes

What employees really needed were clear instructions about how to deal with inflection points—something similar to the Scottish patients’ booklets: a routine for employees to follow when their willpower muscles went limp. So the company developed new training materials that spelled out routines for employees to use when they hit rough patches. The manuals taught workers how to respond to specific cues, such as a screaming customer or a long line at a cash register. Managers drilled employees, role-playing with them until the responses became automatic. The company identified specific rewards—a grateful customer, praise from a manager—that employees could look to as evidence of a job well done.
Starbucks taught their employees how to handle moments of adversity by giving them willpower habit loops.

Related Characters: Charles Duhigg (speaker)
Page Number: 145
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 7 Quotes

This insight helped explain why “Hey Ya!” was failing on the radio, despite the fact that Hit Song Science and music executives were sure it would be a hit. The problem wasn’t that “Hey Ya!” was bad. The problem was that “Hey Ya!” wasn’t familiar. Radio listeners didn’t want to make a conscious decision each time they were presented with a new song. Instead, their brains wanted to follow a habit. Much of the time, we don’t actually choose if we like or dislike a song. It would take too much mental effort. Instead, we react to the cues (“This sounds like all the other songs I’ve ever liked”) and rewards (“It’s fun to hum along!”) and without thinking, we either start singing, or reach over and change the station.

Related Characters: Charles Duhigg (speaker), Rich Meyer
Page Number: 203
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 9 Quotes

Every habit, no matter its complexity, is malleable. The most addicted alcoholics can become sober. The most dysfunctional companies can transform themselves. A high school dropout can become a successful manager.
However, to modify a habit, you must decide to change it. You must consciously accept the hard work of identifying the cues and rewards that drive the habits’ routines, and find alternatives. You must know you have control and be self-conscious enough to use it—and every chapter in this book is devoted to illustrating a different aspect of why that control is real.

Related Characters: Charles Duhigg (speaker), Angie Bachmann , Brian Thomas
Page Number: 270
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Power of Habit PDF

Cue Term Timeline in The Power of Habit

The timeline below shows where the term Cue appears in The Power of Habit. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: The Habit Loop: How Habits Work
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But saving effort can also be dangerous for the brain, which can miss important cues, like a car speeding into the street behind the driveway. Brain scans show that to... (full context)
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...out his anger, even when he couldn’t remember why he was angry. But when his cues subtly shifted, his habits stopped working. For instance, when there was construction in his neighborhood,... (full context)
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...all around the world have started to study habits. Habits can involve all sorts of cues, routines, and rewards. They are “powerful, but delicate”—people can build and alter them either consciously... (full context)
Chapter 2: The Craving Brain: How to Create New Habits
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...run their tongue across their teeth and feel the dirty film—which Pepsodent would remove. The cue was the film, the routine was tooth-brushing, and the reward was a cleaner, more beautiful... (full context)
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...Hopkins’s ad campaign succeeded because he followed two basic rules: he found a straightforward, basic cue and “clearly define[d] the rewards.” These two rules are the keys to advertising and habit... (full context)
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...from their ability to build cravings over time, as they cause individuals to associate specific cues with specific rewards. For instance, over time, Julio started to immediately crave the juice as... (full context)
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...accomplishment that working out gives them. To build a lasting habit, people must create simple cues and clear rewards for themselves—but the cue also needs to make them start craving the... (full context)
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...started craving the smell of Febreze, and sales skyrocketed. This again showed that simply creating cues and rewards wasn’t enough—ads also needed to create cravings. This is the third element that... (full context)
Chapter 3: The Golden Rule of Habit Change: Why Transformation Occurs
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...Specifically, he believes in the “Golden Rule of habit change,” which advocates for keeping the cue and reward the same while changing the routine. After Dungy got his job at the... (full context)
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...succeeds by using the Golden Rule of habit change. It teaches people to understand the cues and rewards that drive them to drink and then replace drinking with a different routine.... (full context)
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...nail-biter, desperately wanted to stop. Brad Dufrene, a psychology PhD student, had her describe the cue for her behavior and then analyze the underlying reward. The cue was a feeling of... (full context)
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...practice their most important moves until those moves were automatic. He figured out what visual cues they were looking for at the beginning of every play and then changed their routines.... (full context)
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...chapter has illustrated two key principles. The first is the Golden Rule: use the same cue and reward but change the routine. The second is that for new habits to stick,... (full context)
Chapter 9: The Neurology of Free Will: Are We Responsible for Our Habits?
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...are powerful and deeply rooted, but also that they’re not destiny. If people understand the cue-routine-reward loop behind their habits, they can decide to change them. This is why Angie Bachmann... (full context)
Afterword: Some Things Learned About Weight Loss, Smoking, Procrastination, and Teaching
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Tom Peyton lost 70 pounds by recognizing that boredom and stress cued him to overeat. He then built new routines like weighing himself every morning and going... (full context)
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...with and relapse into their bad habits several times before they can really understand their cues, routines, and rewards. (full context)