Learn About Ailments | Habitual Behaviour

Habitual Behaviour

Habitual behaviour is typically a way of creating order or structure to day-to-day life. Habitual behaviour is learned and then becomes automatic without the person being consciously aware of doing it. Negative habitual behaviours can be detrimental to physical and mental health, the most common being smoking and drinking.
Habitual Behaviour

In This Article
Causes Symptoms
Diagnosis Related Terms

The cause of habitual behaviour goes to the very core of any species but humans have a higher level of habitual behaviour due to our greater ability to learn. Beyond our instincts, humans can learn and acquire new behaviour patterns which are similar in many ways to instinctive behaviours such as breathing. Habitual behaviours can play a positive part of life but negative behaviours can cause long-term emotional, physical and psychological harm.


Habitual behaviour is acquired by developing a response to a stimulus pattern that has been experienced in the past. Once the process has been learned, the behaviour becomes second-nature and requires little conscious thought (such as smoking, driving a car etc.). Habitual behaviour patterns are faster than conscious responses but slower than instinctive behaviours. Once a habitual behaviour has been learned, it can be difficult to overcome. Although this is beneficial for positive behaviours, it can be detrimental to negative processes such as smoking and drinking.

Habitual behaviour symptoms are demonstrated by performing a learned process e.g. smoking a cigarette, riding a bicycle, and then displaying a reaction to them. This reaction may not always be obvious to the individual. As the process is performed many times, and a positive result is achieved, so the habitual behaviour is formed.


The behaviours that are deemed to be negative will only display symptoms when the process is challenged in some way. A smoker can begin to develop health issues due to the harmful nicotine, they may suffer withdrawal symptoms when trying to give up smoking or they may become agitated when told they can't smoke. These are physical and emotional reactions that may determine that something has become habitual in a negative way.

Diagnosing a habitual behaviour may only be necessary when the behaviour has become a problem for the individual or those around them. Often those who display negative habitual behaviours will not be able to identify a problem and could become unsettled when directly challenged about their behaviour.

A visit to a trained health professional can often help in the diagnosis of a negative habitual behaviour. Many people find it helpful to be accompanied by a friend or family member who can offer support. As with many health related problems, your first port of call should be your local GP.

  • Psychological
  • Habit
  • Cognitive
  • Reaction
  • Stimulus
  • Responses
  • OCD
  • Routine
  • Mental Health
  • Obsessive compulsive

  • Therapies to consider
    Cognitive Behaviour Therapy Counselling Craniosacral Therapy
    EFT Hypnotherapy Life Coaching
    NLP Psychotherapy Thought Field Therapy


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