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DonU+2019t make a habit out of it : impaired learning conditions can make goal-directed behavior seem habitual

Journal Contribution - Journal Article

Habitual processes are often seen as the mechanisms underlying various suboptimal behaviors. Moors et al. (2017) challenged this view, arguing that the influence of goal-directed processes may be underestimated in explaining suboptimal behavior. Much evidence for habitual processes in humans comes from studies that used an outcome devaluation test within a task called the Fabulous Fruit Game (FFG; de Wit et al., 2007). In particular, poor performance on the FFG has been taken as evidence for increased reliance on habits. Recently, however, it was shown that the outcome devaluation test in the FFG targets the wrong outcome, which likely leads to an overestimation of habitual processes (De Houwer et al., 2018). We propose, in addition, that previous findings of differences in performance on the FFG do not reflect differences in habitual and goal-directed processing, but rather depend on differences in learning conditions such as task difficulty, and the opportunity, capacity, and motivation to learn the relevant contingencies. Our study shows that a lack of motivation leads to a pattern that would usually be interpreted as evidence for habits when in fact the behavior is goal-directed.
ISSN: 2333-8121
Issue: 3
Volume: 7
Pages: 252 - 263