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Columnist Crawford Hollingworth Cue action! A s researchers, we often explore the context around the product, service or consumers we are researching. New research on understanding the science behind habits and routines has given us another concrete reason to explore context how analysing the types of cues prompting a routine behaviour can indicate how strong and well-embedded a routine might be. Significantly, not all cues are equal. There is a plethora of behaviour-change interventions in trying to build a new habit, many of which have limited success, especially long term. Having evidence-based structured questionnaires (one to measure memory ability and another to measure the strength of habit), together with in-context photo submissions of where participants kept their tablets. Adherence was primarily determined based on participants self-reports of forgetting. could inform interventions to help people select the cues that best fit their context and, so, ensure a strong habit is built. We already know that establishing cues background reminders in your surroundings that automatically make you prompt and build a new habit or routine. When we consistently perform a behaviour upon encountering a specific cue in our context, it reinforces the association we have between that cue and the behaviour. As these associations strengthen, the behaviour happens more automatically and habitually as our control over the new behaviour shifts from the conscious, intentional and memory-based parts of the brain to the non-conscious parts of the brain. Not all cues are equal Qualitative research by Katarzyna Stawarz and Benjamin Gardner, psychologists at Bristol University and Kings College When we consistently perform a behaviour upon encountering a specific cue in our context, it reinforces the association between the cue and the behaviour strategy for cueing simple habits. Previous research by Gardner on establishing habits has already found that, left to their own devices, people often pick suboptimal cues, failing to be specific enough or trying to include too many behaviours in a single plan. In this new work, Stawarz and Gardner have explored how people build a new habit. They recruited 38 young people to make taking a daily vitamin C tablet a habit over the course of three weeks. Crucially, they were given no guidance on how to build the habit. The research explored how people responded through a combination of in-depth, semi-structured interviews, one at the start and another at the end of the study; and two 46 Impact ISSUE 35 2021_pp46-47_Crawford.indd 46 17/09/2021 17:36