Got a New Year’s Resolution? Here’s how to make it stick!

by Charles Duhigg in Habits

It’s 2014! Congratulations on making it through another year! If you’re anything like me, New Years is also a great time to take stock and determine how you want to completely transform every aspect of your life. (Or, at least, figure out how to exercise every day. Or, you know, once a month.) Luckily, we’ve…Read More

Infographics! (Or, a flowchart for changing a habit)

by Charles Duhigg in Habits, Uncategorized

At long last, I have flowcharts! Have you ever been sitting at work, wondering to yourself, “is there a flowchart that can tell me how to change a habit?” Now there is! Please feel free to download, email, post on your wall, send to friends or make paper airplanes out of this handy guide to…Read More

How Companies Learn Your Secrets (or, How Target Knew a Teenager Was Pregnant Before Her Dad)

The New York Times Magazine published an excerpt from my book. If you would like to read it, you can find it here (or, if you would rather read it on this site, there’s a copy of it here.) There were a bunch of comments about the story, which are here. There were also a…Read More

Why Did Whitney Fail Rehab? Too Much Talent.

by Charles Duhigg in Alcohol and Drug Habits, Habits

How the Science of A.A. Explains Whitney Houston’s Death It’s easy to forget, given her scandal-tinged life and tragic death, how incredibly talented Whitney Houston was. She holds the world record as the most-awarded female act of all time, with over 415 major recognitions during her career. She is the only artist to chart seven…Read More

Are Habits Different for Women than Men?

by Charles Duhigg in Brain Science, Habits

  Imagine, for a moment, that a friend comes to your desk and asks for advice: they want to change their smoking and exercise habits. What should they do? Would your habit advice be different if they were a woman than if they were a man? For the last 30 years, the traditional answer has…Read More

Do Smoking Bans Cause Drinking and Driving?

by Charles Duhigg in Habits

of smoking drinking and driving

In 2006, two researchers in Wisconsin noticed a weird pattern. A number of cities had recently banned smoking in public places, such as at bars and restaurants. The laws were amazingly effective at cutting down on the number of people using cigarettes. Simply making it harder to smoke meant that fewer people puffed away.

But, for some reason, drunk driving fatalities seemed to increase wherever smoking bans were put in place. What, the researchers wondered, was going on?

The researchers’ first hypothesis was that smokers were driving longer distances to find bars in other cities where it was legal to puff. Or, that smokers were driving to obscure parts of town to find bars that ignored the law, or had outdoor seating where smoking was allowed. This reflects a basic axiom: for the drunk driver, the length of your drive matters almost as much as how many drinks you’ve consumed. That’s why rural areas have so many drunk driving deaths. Intoxicated people who have to drive 30 or 40 minutes after leaving a bar are far more likely to fall asleep at the wheel than a drunk with a three minute commute. When the researchers looked at data from states that had recently implemented smoking bans, the data seemed to support their hypothesis. Bans = longer drives = more deaths. Case closed, they figured.

But a few years later, someone else noticed another strange pattern. By then, smoking bans Read More