After several iterations of research, we discovered that there was a barrier to the pursuit of a new organizational system. Even if a current organizational system was inefficient, lacked scheduling capabilities, or was less ascetically pleasing than a perspective new systems, subjects were often uninterested or unwilling to change their behavior. After careful analysis, we attributed this behavior to a habit-based preference for continuity that led to high switching costs from an old organizational system to a new one. Below you can find examples and analysis taken directly from our research concerning habits and continuity preferences.
Structured Observation #1Edit
The first structured observation was for a school teacher's desk. She has been a teacher for over 20 years, and has kept the organization system in her desk the exact same every year. Once a year, she will clean it out, but the entire system has stayed the same the whole time she has been a teacher. Because the system has not changed, we felt that this greatly related to habits. While she has had the opportunity to change, and new organizational systems have been introduced into the marketplace, she has not broken her habit of how she organizes her desk. It is the exact same year after year.
Structured Observation #2Edit
Our second structured observation was for an area of the kitchen counter in which a working Mom made school lunches for four kids five days a week. The area included all of the necessary components to assemble lunches, and all of the components were in arm's reach. We felt this related to habits and continuity because she has gotten into the habit of making lunches for the kids, and has worked it into her schedule so that she can quickly make all of the lunches. She has been doing this for years, and is very used to completing this task daily before she goes to work and the kids go to school.
Structured Observation #4Edit
The fourth structured observation we completed was for Margaret Vick's linen closet. In the closet are some items that kids should not be able to reach or see, as well as items that kids use often and should be easily accessible. Margaret organized her linen closet when she had two kids that were young, and so she organized it in a way so that it was kid-friendly. To this day, the closet is still organized in that way, even though at this point in time both of her children have moved out of the house and are now both over 21 years of age. Because the closet is still organized in a kid-friendly way even though kids no longer frequent the house, we felt that this was a great example of habit. She has not changed the way the closet is organized because it is ingrained in her mind that this is how it should be.
Structured Observation #5Edit
The fifth structured observation was for Danette Gonzalez's quilting and fabric closet. She has organized the closet over the years so that all of the fabric is placed into bins based upon its color. However, in the front of the closet are the patterns that she has used recently. While this is not aesthetically pleasing, we felt it related to habits. She had gotten in the habit of placing fabric used recently towards the front of the closet so she can get to it easily. This is especially helpful when people compliment her recent work, so she can easily get to a sample of the fabric for them.
Structured Observation #6Edit
The sixth structured observation was for a dental hygeniest, and how she had organized her work counter. She has the different items color coordinated, and keeps things in order. Each time she uses up an item, she immediately replaces it because she does not want anything to be missing. This relates to habit because even though it might not be the best way to organize her items, she does so because she does not think there is a good way. She has gotten very used to her system and is unwilling to change how she has everything organized.
Structured Observation #7Edit
The seventh structured observation we completed was for Mary Krause's christmas shopping list. She keeps a list of each person in the family (including extended) and past presents that she has gotten them over the last 20 years. The list also includes things such as their birthdate and how old they are. Mary has gotten in to the habit of keeping this list, and writes everything she purchases down on it throughout the year every time she shops. She stated that she would be unwilling to change to any other system because it would not have her past data. Having the past data is incredibly helpful to her, and if she were to switch to a new system it would take too long to adjust to the new system and get enough information on it to be effective. Her current system is very much so a habit of hers, because she records things on it often.
Article: "Breaking Behavior Repetition"Edit
- The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.
- Habits are behaviors that occur automatically - regardless of whether the person is aware or conscious of their actions.
- The best opportunity to break habits is at "intervention points" - life-changing periods when people are more likely to change. Related to Karyn's product, we identified buying a new house or having a child for the first time as potential intervention points when old habits could be changed and people could start using Karyn's product.