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As part of our recent partnership with The Well by BigThink, the John Templeton Foundation presents a new series of spotlight conversations with our remarkable grantees.


If you can change your habits, you can change your life. 

Most people believe that we can overcome bad habits by having better self-control. But according to social psychologist Wendy Wood, it doesn’t actually work this way. The only way to change a bad habit is by replacing it with a different, repetitive behavior.

Wood explains how habits are formed in our brains,

“Our habits are stored in a memory system that we don’t have access to, we can’t fuss with. It’s a way of securing the most important information, and protecting it from change. And so, there’s no way you can change that habit memory except through repetition of other behaviors. We repeat a behavior in a given context in the same way, and we get some reward. When we get a reward, our brain releases dopamine. Rewards get us to repeat behaviors and form habits.”

In the newest video series from The Well by BigThink, Dr. Wood explores the science behind making positive changes that will actually stick.

Still Curious?

You can view these conversations and related content on The Well.

Learn more about the project Automated Self-Control: The Neuropsychology Of Developing Good Habits, funded by the John Templeton Foundation and led by Wendy Wood.