Charles Duhigg’s “The Power of Habit” Book

Cite this


The life of every human being, at some point, requires making choices in terms of the future. The following process of decision-making, along with the ability to think and perceive the environment critically, is generally known as the ability that separates homo sapiens from other species. However, when it comes to several decisions made throughout a single day, few people reflect on the extent to which they are in control of these choices. As a result, most human actions are made through the power of habit, or one’s behavioral patterns are made automatically. In The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Busines, Charles Duhigg dwells on the scientific reasoning behind habits to realize why certain routine processes are so hard to eliminate. Ultimately, the author tries to correlate the habitual patterns with the notion of free will and its role in human lives. Thus, while many people believe their decisions and habits to be a result of conscious reasoning and exercise of free will, human nature itself is bound to the absence of ultimate freedom of choice whatsoever.

Cut 15% OFF your first order
We’ll deliver a custom Behaviorism paper tailored to your requirements with a good discount
Use discount
322 specialists online

The Science Behind a Habit

Humans tend to be driven by the idea that they are no others but arbiters of their destiny when in fact, most of their decisions are made without the slightest consideration. Indeed, unlike other beings, people can apply critical analysis to a specific situation to define the most appropriate plan of action. However, in The Power in Habit, one may find out that no less than 40% of human decisions are made automatically (Duhigg 12). As a result, people’s lives have become somehow driven by habitual actions. According to Duhigg (35), every habit presupposes a three-step process, encompassing the notions of cue, or trigger that evokes certain action, routine, and reward. As a result, when the human mind becomes rather addicted to the idea of getting a reward, it starts experiencing a craving for the outcome, thus commencing a so-called habit loop.

By presenting this idea, Duhigg essentially tries to tell people that they can change their patterns of life by changing their routines. However, when it narrows down to replacing one habit with a more beneficial one, it is hard to talk about free will in the sense people are used to discussing it. For example, when speaking of changing the habit, Duhigg (92) explains that the presence of cue and reward is not enough to empower the habit, as it is the expectation of the reward, or craving, that triggers a repetitive pattern. Hence, when one person replaces videogame addiction with jogging when craving a sense of achievement, people tend to believe that a positive habit requires a stronger sense of free will. It would be reasonable to ask oneself why video gaming is considered an inherently “bad” habit, whereas people’s desire to crave achievement and self-assertion through sports is not regarded as another way of addiction manifestation.

Habit in the Context of Free Will

The idea of changing one’s lifestyle is directly correlated with the process of exercising free will and identifying the cues that play a detrimental role in a person’s life. However, when speaking of Duhigg’s perception of habit, it would be safe to assume that the habit itself deprives people of the actual ability to choose a lifestyle, making them choose between selected options. Thus, when speaking of eliminating a bad habit, humans seem to be left without the ability to abandon the craving once and for all. Instead, they focus on ways to satisfy the mind’s craving through a less detrimental process. Such a process is not exactly associated with the issue of free will, as craving combines semantically with the idea of dependence.

In Chapter 9 of the book, Duhigg addresses the idea of neurology behind the power of free will. The author claims that just like people struggling with brain damage, people with destructive addictions such as gambling or drinking partly lose their ability to exercise free will (Duhigg 296). For this reason, when people try to characterize crime or addiction as a deliberate choice, they are wrong because there is always more to actions than one’s irresponsibility. Thus, to justify why some people are capable of giving up a bad habit faster than others, Duhigg (306) presents free will as something that may be trained, calling it a willpower muscle. According to his perception of free will, people who succeed in acquiring a good habit can identify the factors that affect the extent to which they take control of behavioral patterns. For this reason, such communities as AA aim at identifying people’s true intentions behind drinking, urging them to focus on their feelings at the moment of craving and gradually exercising their willpower.

Although beneficial, the idea of training free will is arguably disruptive in terms of the perception of the will itself. Analyzing the data presented, it is possible to conclude that the discovery of the willpower muscle is a way of shifting the focus from self-destruction to control. Still, this training process may take years before becoming automatic, making people hostages of their cravings. For this reason, it may be reasonably assumed that the word “power” in the book’s title primarily refers to the habit’s ability to take over human life while presenting an illusion of deliberate choice. At the end of the day, people do not become freer from their cravings, they just choose the most acceptable way to satisfy the need.

On-Time Delivery!
Get your customised and 100% plagiarism-free paper done in as little as 3 hours
Let’s start
322 specialists online

Another argument crucial in terms of defining the extent of free will is the philosophical dilemma of the construct of freedom. Even when considering the scenario that human’s change of habitual patterns is the manifestation of free will, the cues that define habits are deeply integrated into the social patterns. Thus, according to Duhigg (319), habitual cues fall into the five categories of time, location, preceding events, emotional state, and other people, with the last being arguably the most significant. Thus, when appealing to the phenomenon of human habit, it is barely possible for an individual to take control over one’s life. Considering this fact, it may be justified that while Charles Duhigg addresses the notion of free will, he weighs in the impression that people would never be the actors of their fate and lifestyle.


Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit is a book that evokes many controversial feelings in terms of people’s routine and habitual patterns. Indeed, when living in a constant illusion of having everything under control, people find the actual power of habit rather appalling. However, the author does his best to show people how their cravings may be satisfied through the means of willpower training and replacing the habits. Having analyzed the content, it may be concluded that the overall data represented in the book contributes to the fact that human nature is somewhat limited in terms of freedom of choice. Thus, instead of being provided with free will, people are left with the opportunity to define the least harmful alternative to satisfy their mind’s cravings.

Work Cited

Duhigg, Charles. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business. Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2014.

Cite this paper

Select style


PsychologyWriting. (2022, July 9). Charles Duhigg’s “The Power of Habit” Book. Retrieved from


PsychologyWriting. (2022, July 9). Charles Duhigg’s “The Power of Habit” Book.

Work Cited

"Charles Duhigg’s “The Power of Habit” Book." PsychologyWriting, 9 July 2022,


PsychologyWriting. (2022) 'Charles Duhigg’s “The Power of Habit” Book'. 9 July.


PsychologyWriting. 2022. "Charles Duhigg’s “The Power of Habit” Book." July 9, 2022.

1. PsychologyWriting. "Charles Duhigg’s “The Power of Habit” Book." July 9, 2022.


PsychologyWriting. "Charles Duhigg’s “The Power of Habit” Book." July 9, 2022.