Do Habits Fade Out? Discerning Between Two Theories Using Agent-Based Simulation

Rijk Mercuur*, Virginia Dignum, Catholijn M. Jonker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeConference contributionScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
34 Downloads (Pure)


Inducing behavioural change requires a good understanding of how habits break. We identified two theories in the psychological literature on this process: the decrease theory and persist theory. Both theories are used to explain behavioural change, but one states the original habit fades out, while the other theory states the habit persists. We use agent-based simulation to show that the two theories lead to different behaviour when the agents are motivated to do multiple alternative actions (e.g., take the bike or take the train), instead of one alternative action (e.g., take the bike). This finding is relevant for the social scientific field, because (1) it shows a scenario where it matters if habits persist and (2) it enables an empirical experiment to discern the two theories.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdvances in Social Simulation - Proceedings of the 15th Social Simulation Conference, 2019
EditorsPetra Ahrweiler, Martin Neumann
Number of pages13
ISBN (Print)978-3-0306-1502-4
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Event15th Social Simulation Conference, SSC 2019 - Mainz, Germany
Duration: 23 Sept 201927 Sept 2019

Publication series

NameSpringer Proceedings in Complexity
ISSN (Print)2213-8684
ISSN (Electronic)2213-8692


Conference15th Social Simulation Conference, SSC 2019

Bibliographical note

Green Open Access added to TU Delft Institutional Repository ‘You share, we take care!’ – Taverne project
Otherwise as indicated in the copyright section: the publisher is the copyright holder of this work and the author uses the Dutch legislation to make this work public.


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