UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Habit as a a factor of conduct control 1924

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HABIT AS A FACTOR OF CONDUCT CONTROL Minnie Mildred Osterhout. HABIT AS A FACTOR OF CONDUCT CONTROL Minnie Mildred Osterhout. A Thesis Submitted for the Degree of MASTER OF AETS in the Department of Philosophy. The University of British Goluinbia April 1924. TABLE OF COIITEKTS Chapter I. Conduct as an expression of Human Kature. T-mo factors controlling Conduct - heredity experience• The former analyzed. The pov-er of habit in modifying and developing instinct and reflex. Chapter II. The nature of habit. its connection with the inherited nature. Divergence of thought as to which predominates The Physical basis. Chapter III.Some aspects of habit formation. Impulses leading to such formation, liaips governing the formation of habits. Plateaus. Characteristics of formed habits. Time of setting up. Chapter IV. Classification of habits - moral, immoral. Possibility of modification. Importance of correct formation. Chapter V. Value of Habit formation. Advantages to be gained. Conservative view. Progress depenue.it on habit. Significance of habit formation. 0 OEAPTER I. Conduct as an Expression of Human Nature^ Conduct has ever "been the reaction or adjustment of man to his environment. Granted a similarity of external conditions the variations in the responses of different indi- viduals to the same stimuli indicate the differences in their inner natures. If v.e could comprehend man's inner nature completely we could explain his responses. But it is impossi- ble with our present psychological knowledge to directly know the inner nature of other individuals than the self. 'Ve may however by an analysis of man's outward reactions gain in- directly some insikht into the factor v;hiGh controls their expression. This method is the only one that leads us to an understanding of' the factors involved in conduct control. Considering man as a unit of society the same rale applies. For as conduct is the chief factor leading to an understanding of the individual so it must form the basis of all study of man in relation to his fellov,- man. History and Eeonohics are wholly studies of such relationships as por- trayed in conduct. Any m:.ral progress that has been made is indicated in conduct. If one generation does not show any variation from the preceding one little advance can be «2- asoertained. But as we note how one generation or one indi- vidaal rises above the restrictions that the past has imposed v̂e observe progress or possibility of progress. Psychologi- cally these variations as v.ell as the usual reactions can be explained for all actions conform to the laws of cause and effect. As we analyze the effects in the form of man's ad- justments to the usual and unusual situations of life with which he is confronted we are generally able to expose the cause. Human conduct then, is our only critereon by v.'hich to interpret human nature whether individually or socially. It is the purpose of this study to enquire into the factors con- trolling conduct to see in how far they may be modified and to analyze the chief factor which controls it's expression,, Kodern psychologists agree that there are two main factors controlling mtn's nature. As expressed by Bagley "Through the nervous system operate the forces that control oondact, and while it is impossible in the present state of our knowledge accurately to describe the mechaniEUi of control, two large factors th£.t are of especial signifioance to our present problem may be readily distintuished. " These he points out are (1) Heredity (2) Experience. Conduct explained from the point of view of in- heritance is relatively fixed, comprisinr actions wliich are* reflex and those which are instinctive. Keflex actions are involuntary motor responses to stimuli having a sense origin. They have the three aspects of all mental processes the ^ 1. (Educational Values p.S) _ -»__ e o j . i j i t i v e , t h e a f f e c t i v e , and t h e c o n u t i v e . Txie n e a r ; - ! p a t h - v...yg i e a i i n t ' t o c e r t a i n r e s p o n s t s a r e i u h e r i t e d , t oiu^ i luf-t •.vLOliy f o r m e d b a t more o f t e n ex^.e r i c ;.ce i s n e c e s s t r y t o f . i l y e s t a b l i s h t h e s e c o - o r d i n a t i o n s . Thus b o c i i l y movementE c ^zYi &e t h e g rasp infc - m o v e m e n t e of t h e h a n d , i iLprove v i t h e x p e r i f u . - e . AB e x p e r i e n c e may d e v e l o p r e f l e x e s so i t may m o d i i y them f o r e x a r a p l e "hen some f o r e i r n m a t t e r e n t e r s t l ie eye t h e l i d s i n - Y o i u n t a r i l y c l o s e b a t i f ont^'s e y e s a r e b e i n r t r e a t e d r e g u l a r - i i v a f t e r a t i m e t h e y become a c c u B t o m e d t o c e r t a i n s t i m a l i and t h f r e f l e x m&y be i n h i b i t e d . The o t h e r i n h e r i t e d f a c t o r -vhich a i d s i n o o n t r o i i i a f . c o n d u c t I s i n s t i n c t . i n s t i n c t i v e a c t i o n s c o n f o r m t o t h e f x u e r a r e f l e x t y p e so c l o s e l y t h a t somt^ p s y c h o i o i s t s f a i l t o r e c o e - n i s e any d i s t i n c t i o n b e t w e e n t h e m . .Ve may h o w e v e r n o t e a feu- d i s t i n g u i s h i n ^ f e a t a r e e . A r e f l e x i s p r i m a r i l y p h y s i o l o t i c a l and may be u n d e r s t o o d f rom t h e m e o h a n i o i l a c t i v i t y of t h e n e r v j a s s t r u c t u r e , v . h i l e t h e i n s t i n c t c a n be r e f e r r e d t o i t s p a r p o s e a l o n e , a l t h o u g h j n e &ay n o t be c o u e c i o ^ s of t i . i e r a r p o s e a t t h e t i m e of a c t i o n . Thus t h t r e a c t i o n i f one s t e p s on a t a c k may be e x p l c - i n e d i n p u r e l y phy s i o l c ; i c c-1 t e r x s . bu t t n e s e a r e n o t i . e f f i c i e n t t o a o o o a n t f o r s u c h r e a c t i o n s as t i . . s e w h i c h t a k e p l a c e when one s e e s a movtineKt i n t h e e r a s s s a n i e s t i a sn&i i e . * O o n s c i o a ^ a e s E p l t y s a a o r e i m p o r t a n t p - r t in i .^- s t i n c t t h a n i n r e f l e i . Kany r e f i t x 2iO\-: :-' - t E t . . ^ f j . i ; - ; - ' q a i t e a n c o n s o i o a s i y a s f o r i n s t a n c e t a t a d ^ a:, t i f :; t . : t n e p a p i i of ne -4- the eye. In the instinct usually all is conscioas except the reason for the act. The adolescent youth fives expression to an instinct, in displaying his strength or bravery before rnembers of the opposite ses. without realizing v:hy he does so. An instinct is generally considered to be more complex than a reflex. V.'arren says," Instincts are complic- ations of behavior T.hich involve a series of reflex activities The simple act of swallo-wing is a reflex but there are a namber of such actions involved in the instinct v-hich leads to eating. Another distinction lies in the fact that instincts are usually accompanied by a degree of emotion which is for the most part absent in the reflex." Having established these distinctions it is still difficult to obtain a scientific 'definition of an instinctive action. KcDougall defines instinct as " an inherited or innate psycho-physical disposition which determines its possessor to perceive and. to pay attention to objects of a certain class, to experience an emotional excitement of a particular quality upon perceiving such an object and to act in regard to it in a particalat manner or at least to exper- ience an impulse to such action." He farther holds that instincts cannot be eradicated from the mental oonstitation and that the intelligence does not supplant and so lead to their atrophy but rather controls and modifies their operation. l.{ Human Psychology p.102) i;.(Social Psychology, p.29) 2. -5~ I think IvIcDougall over - emphas i zes the emotional element for some instincts are performed v.'ithoat the accompaniment of consciousness at all and others have no definite emotion attached to them. V,'e can hardly say that an infant is cons- cious of its first instinctive' movements or that these are accompanied by any emotion. He also overestimates the sta- bility of instincts for ivhile some have become so deeply in- grained in the race that they cannot be entirely eliminated, Others can be completely uprooted as we shall see later. In defining insti.ict Russell says^it is a vital movement performed by an animal the first time that it finds itself in a novel situation'.' Kussell's view restricts the ordinary meaning of instinct for.such an instinct as the nest building of birds manifests itself more than once. '.-76 may also note that a vital movement performed in a novel situa- tion may be the result of emotional impulses, of reason, or of previously learned response in some similar or parallel sit- uations . This view that an instinct only expresses itself once leads to the conclusion that this expression opens the. pathway to which there v;as an inherited predisposition. The instinct forms the incentive but habit establishes the re- action often modifying its expression through repeated res- ponses. This is possible because instincts are general rather than particular 7,'hen first expressed and have to be guided (The Analysis of Mind,p.50) -6- into certain channels. Thus although a child has an instinc- tive desire for nourishment at its birth, habit formulates a desire for food at certain regular intervals and this desire is jast as insistent whether the child has become accastomed to satisfying it two, three of four times a day. Similarily the instinct of fear, if one gives ex- pression to it associates it with certain objects etc., may beoome a habit of lifetime endurance and of great intensity expressing itself in a certain definite way when certain stimuli appear. Thorndike says, «The instinctive tendencies beoome habits as soon as experience alters them. They are mod- ified into habits v.'hen any act physical or mental, which in a given situation produces satisfaction, becomes associated with that situation so that when the situation recurs the aot is more likely to recur also". On the other hand habit may establish a mode of reaction which tends to v̂eaken the expression of the original instinct. Thus an individaal vho has an instinct of repulsion to^vards a certain object may habituate himself to seeing and even handling that object v̂ith only a slight feeling of his previous disgust. V.'e may agree v;ith Dê vey that "in reality instincts are most easily modified and subject to education." Contrary to MoDougall I think habit may in some, oases displace the instinct altogether. As Bain holds some habits oppose instincts and we see this to be trae in such l.(El. of Psychology, p.16) 2.. (Human Nc. ture and Conduct, p. 107) g.(The E.T.otions and The "ill, p. 446-447) 1. 2. 3. -7- instances as he quotes in v̂ hich habits of obedience are set up in opposition to self r;ill and the instinctive tendency zo foil ow out one's prevailing temper." In suoh cases it may take a long period of habit foriaation to completely overcome the instinct. In other types of instinct •rahich are r.-eaẑ er a mach shorter term --ill serve. Some appear only for a sLort tiaie and then if not satisfied die out. Thus the instinct to play appearing at a certain period in the life of a child and find- ing no outlet for expression dies out in a relatively short time. Habits of Tork, 1 istlessness, eta completely over- po-!7er the instinct. Accordingly vie see that although instinct is given such a prominent place as a oonduo t-oontrol in reality it's power is limited. Instinct alone -pould not eqj.ip an individ- ual to cope with the intiroaoies of modern civilization. The majority of instincts only become of -orth to as as they are guided into certain channels. Eusseli says "The higher ŝ-e rise in the evolutionary scale, broadly speakin;,, the greater be- • omes the po'??er of learning and the fe.ver are the occasions when pure instinct is exhibited unmodified in adult life." Habit then as the guide and modifier of some instincts and reflexes, as the destroyer of others,and as the me^ns of establishing nev>7 modes of behavior is the factor which exer- cises the greatest poorer as a conduct-control. The following chapters are given over to analyzing this statement and en- deavoring to prove its validity. 1. (The Analysis of LIiiid,p£S) ^ ^ ^ -8- CHAPTEE II. The lature of Habit Having discussed innate characteristics, we come no\7 to consider that part of a man's character which is not his at birth and which he attains only through experience. Uood- •worth says, "Extensive as is the n&tive eo^uipment of man î 'ith its manifold sensations and emotions, movements and interests it is very small compared with the learned eqaipment." This latter consists of habits which v̂'e m£y define as, tendencies to respond to stimuli in a certain manner, which have been created by experience and 'vhich have their stability in the physical organism. " Boyce says "Each of the numerous habits of the brain means then, tendencies to the excitement of loc- alized tracts and paths under given physical conditions. James says, " A simple hshit is nothing but a reflex dischar-e and a complex one discharges due to syetems of reflex paths so organized as to v;ake each other up successively." Bagley stys Habit is an acoaired mode of response, the separate iUijred- ients of which have at one tin.e or another been coordinated- or associated throut;h conscious control but in which the con- nections are in the completed hahit quite mechanical." We 1. (Dynamic Psycholoi^y p.60) 2. (Outlines of Psy. p.67) 3. (Educational Values p. 23) Tl ( Educational vaUes, -p,'^^] -9- could quote innumerable definitions but for the present \VP shall use these as the basis for our eno^uiry into the nature of habit. Our first difficulty arises in trying to determine how far the acquired part of man's nature is dependent upon his inherited characteristics. Some psychologists,including Watson, believe that all life processes are practically depen- dent on the inherited factors. He says "It is probable further more that at the birth of the animal or soon afterwards all possible nervous connections are already established and that all later development, all adjustments of the animal to chanses in its environment by habit formation involve only changes in resistance througii various inherited areas." Consequently the possible habits vjhich an organism may acquire are limited by its nervous structures. All that is new in habit is the organization. Theodore Dreiser in an article in Current Opinion expresses his view that individual characterE are born, A Kapoleon. Goethe, Shakespeare, Lincoln etc. are not made but have certain innate characteristics without which no training or development could maHe them what they are. They must have these VP-- special characteristics or very individual impulses . 1 to begin with. "If nature wishes one to rise above the con-» ditions wherewith he finds himself surrounded at birth she usually provides him with the equipment for so do in during gestation or before." i. (Psycholo-y from the standpoint of a * Behaviorist, S. (M»y 1ft̂ 7 Pt 544-5) 1 .150 -10- Acquired knowledge and intellect he admits play a very important part tut it is not these alone that place a man so high above his fellov/s, there must also be that vital energy to apply them or the hypnotic power of attracting attention to them ~ in other words personality. Life developi and trains especial inherent capacities but the instinct and the ability to foreknow, do, appreciate, understand these things are not taught in schools. Schools labor with them to improve, polish, give them a special turn or bent^little more or less* On the other hand we have a great school of psy- chologists who believe life is v̂ hat we make it. Among earlier writers Locke was the first to speak of personality as some- thing which is made from moment to moment by a cause which can be assigned. Helvetius and others made the idea of the com- plete malleability of human nature, which is wholly empty and passive, tne basis for asserting the omnipotence of education to shape human society and the ground of proclaiming the infinite perfectibility of mankind. In more recent times so great a man as the Duke ^f Wellington is reported as exclaim- in "Habit is a second naturel Habit is ten times nature!" In refering to habit we mast keep in mind the fact that its domain covers the whole field of human reaction. It aontrois not only the physical bat the mental and emotional spheres as well. It is through habit that the influence of intelligence has most control over the lives of the majority of civilized mpn, Pillshury says. "If you eliminate from the various -11- intellectual activities all that belongs to habit most of the higher mental operations become impossible , and if v.'e include association among habits we may say \?ith complete assuranoe thai no intellectual activity of any kind goes on except on the basis of habit. Hadfield in his treatise on Psychology and Morals says, "Environment is most important in forming character es- pecially the environment of early childhood. A single exper- ience may cause a chan̂ -e in our outlook on life but more effective are the large number of trifling events which becom- ing habits establish these impressions and they become a fixed part of personality." How it is impossible to draw a line of strict demarkation between these viev/s and to vindicate either comp- letely. 7;e must admit that heredity and environment each have a part to play ir conduct control . we are hov;ever justified in making some criticism of the more extreme vie^s and we hope by farther enquiry to determine which factor is the more pov;er- ful. Dreiser in emphasizing the innate faculties does not recognize how useless they would be unless developed into and supported by habits. A man endovjed with the brightest of intellects is helpless unless he develops it and unless he forms habits of temperance, perseverance, keeness of observat- ion etc. to supplement it. If it is true that no man can b^ a genius unless endo-«ed by nature it is also true that he cnn- not be so without developing his innate poiA'ers i»y means of 1, (Essentials of Psy. p.61) 2. (Psycholog-y & Morals p.17) - 1 2 - • a b i t s . T r a i n i n g does liore t h a n p o l i s h , i t d e v e l o p s fro^i ve ry i n f i n i t e s i m a l o e g i n n i n g s s t r o n g h£l ; i ' reac r i on C63cn:e aighty pOT-ers in the inii v i iuai ' s life. r.a"bit has been called the architect that ouilis the ee>ie ruaii^enta] po-jrers of the chill into the stronj lev^lcped po-er ox the fall t-ro7"n man. All educationalists -.vork on this basis. Lits^xe value is no:- given to a system of education --hich does not provide for extensive habit formation in the ::O'J.JI^. Eoiissean's theory that the only habit Torth developing is the habit of forming no habits at adl Justly receives little s jns iderat ion. An indiviaaal rho had foriLed no habits at ail would be quite incapable of ::.eeting the contingencies of private or public life. In order to disc-iss "Watson's statement ^e cust enquire into the physical basis of habit. But first -.te may note thit he does not underestimate the i^ixorta^ce of h-bit as a factor in developing thi inherited tendencies, but he holds oniy certain iir.es of develo?;:.e nt are possible and siEilariiy only certain habit fcr^atior-s are possible cecause of the inherited connections in the nerve arcs. He -ouii lead us to believe tni-t life is ^ holly ieterniiiied ti-rou^h these inherited connec t i o o,s . Physioio;-: ic:-il7, habit der-znic on an organic connection of the n-ir\-;£ c . ̂ ,c rned. H o m e quotes jra.-oer as saying that habit formation is uerendent uvon the fact tnat i, (psycholo =_ ical Prinoiples of iliacation I m <i 6-4^ • I -13- "tbe brain and spinal cord ere plastic enough to receive impressions and rigid encash to retain them." It is only through the nervous system that we receive anjr impression of the outside vrorld. The eye, the ear, the olfactory globes etc are simply specialized fanctions for receiving these impressi o:|is .'.•hich the nerves carry to the bi'ain '.vhere they are registered. we find Once the stiuiulation has found a way in.the 3 a v.- of preserva- tion \vhicli operates in all nature, to be active here too. For as all meterial structures have the property of retaining traces of the physical impressions made upon them so the nervous system is able to retain its impressions. Just as the growth of a tree preserves any wound to its trunk so the growth of the body preserves any modificstion to its nervous system. Physioglcally, habit may be called a sort of material meffiory. A shoe that is v.orn acqaires the habit of the foot, a pen that is used acqaires the habit of the hand. And similarily the nervoas syEtem rhich is much more plastic ac- quires in time the ht-bit of its stimulations. Or v.e may say from the phy s iol o • ical side, habit alv;ays represents modifi- cation of structure to an extent which ives the organism a bent or tendency tov-'ard a repetition of the function. Just how the modifications are made v̂e cannot definitely know for •m it is impossible to ascertain the specific nature of the nervous syatea but we can make certain possible suggestions as to their jiature. -14- Drummond say s , "Physi olo.i;, ically habit depends upon pathways of discharge for nervous currents, -v-hich have been laid down in the nervous system V V7e think of this system as made up of millions of interlacing nerve cells called neurones from which smaller fibers called dendrites branch out. In the infant these cells are in a conglomerate mass except for a feT? inherited connections but as the child develops certain connections are formed amongst them. The lav;s governing the formations of these pathways are the laws governing habit formation. Thorndike distinguishes three such laws which are, tne law of least resistance or of strongest connection, the law of Inborn connection, and the law of acquired connections. These laws explain themselves to some extent. The first one states that when a stimulation from a nerve end is carried to the brain it tends to discharge along the path where the resistance is least. If there is no inherited connection and there has been no previous stimulation of any kind several pathB may be open to it. The discharge may take place along any one of these. VTatson would have us believe that only one response is possitle bat observation of our own acts and those of others shows that this is not so. If the first response proves unsatisfactory the next will be different and BO.on 9 until one is tried v.hich brings satisfaction end with it pleasure and which therefore will tend to be repeated. Each reaction leaves its trace in the path it takes. The neurone that carries the stimulus to the brain becomes connected with i. (An Introduction to Ohild Study P« '^'^^t P.. (Klements of Ps.YCholo.:y p. 164) - 1 £ - t Le o a t f o i n - u c a r o n e t h r o u h a d j o i n i n ; df . . d r 1 t - ' s •; ]i i c b a r e t/.f e s e e n t i a l s t r u c t u r e s i n fo r ra in£ . co nij<-c t io ns . As J a m e s Stays , " I t i s t o t h e i i . f i n i t t e l y a t t e n t a a t e d c u r r e n t s t h a t p o u r i n t h r o u ^ - h t h e S v u s o r y . i - r v , : :-ojt . : lVi'-;t t h e h e m i s p h e r i c - a l c o r t e x s h o ^ s i t s e l f t o be so p e c a l i a r i l y s a s o e p t i b l e . Thi- o u r r e n t s o n c e i n mus t f i n d a vray o u t . In g e t t i n g o u t thfiy l e a v e t h e i r t r a c e s i n t h e p a t h s v .h ich t h e y t a k e . " R e p e t i t i o n f i x e s t h e s e p a t h s s o t h a t i n c o u r s e of t i m e a c e r t a i n s t i n m l a s a l w a y s c a l l s f o r t h a s p e c i f i c r e s - p o n s e b e c a u s e t h e one p a t h w a y h a s b e e n o p e n e d up and t h e o t h e r s h a v e b e e n a b a n d o n e d . A c h a n j e h a s o c a a r r e d w h i c h mty b e s t be t h o a t - h t of a s m e t a b o l i c o r n u t r i t i v e . '.Voodv/o r t h and Ladd s a y t h a t a s a m u s c l e may taKe up n u t r i m e n t f rom t h e b l o o d and i n o r e a , s e i n s i z e so t h e : : . o t i Y i t y of t h e b r a i a c a u s e s a g r o v t h i n t h e f i v e b r a n c h e s of t h e d e n d r i t e s . Thoy a l s o p o i n t o u t t h a t tCL^ides t h i s ^ r o v . t h i n s i z e a m ^ c c l e shows a f t e r e x e r c i s e , an i m p r o v e m e n t i n i t s i n n e r c o n d i t i o n , I t shows t L i s i n t h e f a c t t h a t i t& l n c r - ; a E e d £ t r ex . -_ th i s o f t e n t o o g r e a t to be e x p l a i n e d i n t e r m s of i n c r e a f c d e i z e - - • i t i s n o t u n l i k e l y ' t h e y s a y ' t h a t n e u r o n e s a l s o i a . p i o v e i n t h e i r i n n e r c o n d i t i o n a s t h e r e s u l t of p r e c e u i n g a c t i ^ i t y . B o t h g ro^v th of t h e f i n e b r a n c h e s and I m p r o v e m e n t i n i n t e r a a l c o n d i t i o n s a r e p r o b a b l y f a c t o r s i n t h e r e t e . a i o n of a r e s p o n s e . " 1. 1. (Psycholo -y volume 1, p. 107) Z. {Elements of Physiolo£ical Psy. p. 615) -16- Such growth once set up continues even after the exercise stops. This explains the increased improvement to be observed after periods of rest. Again v,e refer to "• oodv.'orth and Ladd "The nutritive after effect of exercise occurs largely in the subsequent period of rest. After a little Bieroise rest improves the organ v.hioh enters on the next period of activity more capable of deriving benefit from it. It is perhaps a larger organ and so able to absorb more nutriment in its next rest." The contention that we learn to swim in winter andsfcate in summer is based on this theory. This view also explains the greater rapidity in modifying living matter than lifeless matter. The incess- ant nutrituve renovation tends often to corroborate and fix the impressed modification rather than to counteract it by rene.ving the original constitution of the tissue that has been impressed. Consequently v;e see hov; a mode of response once set up becomes in time permanently established and although consGioasness is necessary at first to effect certain res- ponses later some become so automatic as to need no accom- paniment of consciousness. And so they come to take on the nature of reflejtes. -17- CHAPTEE III. Some Aspects of Habit Formation Having discussed what we aean by habit from a physiological standpoint we shall now consider aiore directly the aspects of h£bit formation. V/e may note first that habits are of two kinds, those which are actively formed and to which we must rive our assent and attention such as habits of skill. Secondly habits may be passively formed v;ithout even the accompt^niment of consciousness. These may be ex- emplified in the individual habits of gesture and manner we acquire. V.e shall try and find what impulses lead to the formation of habits and thus discover their oriKin. T.'e find that the forces determining the actions v;hich become estab- lished as habits may be divided into tv.o groups extrinsic, and intrinsic. Extrinsic motive forees are those outv?ard forces, rewards and punishments, public opinion, etc, ivhich impel to action in a certain direction. Intrinsic forces are those v;hich operate from v.ithin such'as reason, volition, etc. , Of the i n t r i n s i c v;e have seen t h a t i n s t i n c t s and r e f l e x e s somet imes a c t as d r i v i n g pov;e rs . S e a s h o r e s a y s , «Thas h a b i t i s i n s t i n c t or r e f l e x pr o^rres s ive ly a d a p t e d , 1 . ( I n t r o d u c t i o n to P s y c h o l o g y p . 2 2 3 ) -16- enlarged and extended on the basis of individual experience." also i'icDoagall contends that all habits have their origin in these instinctive tendencies, but I think ?re may safely challenge this statement. It may be true that all possibilities of development are present in the individual at birth but it does not follow that modes of reaction may be developed only through instinct. In this connection it is interesting to note Seashore's delineation of capacity and ability. He says, "Capacity refers to organic equipment acquired in the process of evolution (i.e. adapted organs -with the instinct to use them); ability refers to h^bit or skill acquired through the use of capacity in the life of the individual." Although we must agree that .unless a person has the equipment, developm,ent is impossible, there are various ways in which it may take place. It must' be generally ad- mitted that certain habits have their mainspring in volition. Ko one would claim that an individual is born with an instinc to learn to typewrite yet if one wills to do so he may set up certain reactions which will result in such an accomp- lishment. Of course williagnosB is not sufficient of itself to establish habits but in many cases it forms the incentive. There must however be something behind the will which moves it to action. To take another example, very few people are' blessed with an instinct to rise early but reason may showg such action to be advantageous and then the will may cause 1. (Introduction to Psy. p.223) -19- the habit to be formed. The reason therefore has an impor- tant function to perform as an intermediary betv,'een v;ill and habit. It acts as an incentive which calls the v.-ill to exert its power. It is chiefly reason acting throagh v;ill pov.-ei that tuides the early instinctive impulses into channels which le&d to the development of well formed habits. But this v.oric is not confined to the reason. The emotions form just as po-.Terful if not more powerful stimuli to the v.iH. In this connection it is interesting to note an observation of Bain regarding the experiencing of those Ghanpes in man's character v.-hich v.-e term conversions. He says, "The explanation of sudden conversions is no doubt to be sought in some overpowering impression uponthe mind that supplies a new and energetic motive to the will thereby initiating a nev, line of conduct. If v.'e can only striice a bio-"' v.ith such po.ver as to seize possession of a man's entire thoughts and voluntary dispositions for a certain length of time we may succeed in It^inching him in a new c&reer and in keeping him in that course until there be time for habits to commence and until a force is arrayed in favor of the present state of things, able to cope - ith the tendencies and growth of the former life." Some psychologists attach great importance to the emotional element holding that it is iinly as they are groun- ded in the emotions that habits can be firmly established. l.(The Emotion and the '.Vill, p.453) : ; i ^ Hadf i e -so- ld says, "Behind and beneath every habit is an emotion the arousal of v;hich determines the habit." He maintains that t that i gives are th Sach a ace ;ir a by the here was originally an emotion connected with it and t is the arousal of this repressed emotion v.'hich now rise to the habit. Even the habits of everyday life e expression of latent desires, normal or abnormal." statement is too all embracing to be scientifically te. Some habits vie must admit are probably induced emotionis for example habits of ill temper or habits of pleasantness. And as far as the instincts are aocompan- i e d b .y also h for th muoh, backed pers on to an holds emotions those habits arising from instinct will ave an emotional basis. Bat w© must maie allowance e fact that many habits, as the habit of eating .too or the habit of eating at certain times, are not by any great emotional impulses and many of the al and basiness habits v;e form cannot be traced back emotional origin. This theory involves the pleasure-pain theory which that those actions which produce pleasure tend to be repeated and so become established as habits while those which resalt in pain tend to be inhibited. But pleasure and pain act as guides in the formation of habit no matter what the origin. They are not the sole determinants however for, T bring .'ill for instance may induce a habit xvhich does not pleasure or even the promise of future pleasure. An example of such a habit would be the learning of a trade in 1.(Bsyohology and Morals, p.40) -21- r.hich he -̂vas not interested by a boy '.vho had to support his a,.ed parents. Eewards and punishments may be mentioned here as conducive to habit formation through the controls of pleasure and pain. '-These ^e term extrinsic impulses. There are certain other habits I think -/̂ hich are induced extrinsically but through no specific impulse. Thus a man aaite by chance may take- a certain seat in church and may readily establish the habit of sitting in that one place. This habit may become so firmly fixed that he is uncomfortable if he has to sit elsewhere and cannot enjoy the service as usual. It was surely no emotional impulse that started Immanuel Kant down a certain path which later became famous as "The Philosopher's "alk" and yet the habit of taking his daily exercise along that particular walk, we are told, was no hsphazard thing. Peters says, that these habits into which we drift represent a lovjer biolo,;ical level than those acquired by effort. Many of the lov;er instincts which "le share with savages and lower animals become established as habits throug being allowed to finction a sufficient number of times. Such habits as selfishness, laziness, intellectual drifting etc. need no strenuous self assertion and guidance but only^ self surrender. All these imposes have their part to play in the origin of habit and it is impossible to say which has the greatest influence. In the life of the very young child h -22- before the will is well developed the other impulses have determining influence. Drummond says, "Purposive and con- scious volition has played only a very subordinate part in the development of our first formed habits although its scope does become gradually more and more important in the acquisition of,h£.bits which are grafted upon these. But in the adult -whose faculties are fully developed perhaps a combination is most effective as when the will and instinct act in the same direction and are backed up by a strong emot-. ional impulse and when the habit leads to pleasure. We have seen that various impAlses may lead to action and our next problem is after the first action then what. •̂ s we have noticed in some cases the impulses must continue to instigate conduct for some time but eventually the essential lav; of habit formation holds as true here as in other cases. This law as expressed by Gordy in his New Psychology is that "Every time we perform any action mental or physical we have more proneness to, and a greater facility for, the performance of that action under similar circumstances than Tje had before". Repetition then becomes the means to the end in habit formation. But undirected repetition is not usually enough. There are certain rules which we must observe to successfaly establish habit. Acc^ ording to Bain and James these are— l.{An Introduction to Child Study, p.233) 2. (HeV.' Psychology p. 154) -23- 1. 7\'e must "launch ourselves v;ith as strong and decided an initiative as possible". James says, "Engelop your resolution I'vith every aid you know, make engagements incompatible v^ifh. the old way and encourage the new". 2. "Never suffer an exception to occur till the nev; habit is securely rooted in your life". Continuity of training is imperative. James says, "Allov/ing an exception to occur is like dropping a ball of yarn that v?e have been carefully winding up." This theory is incompatible with the tapering off method of abandoning such habits as drink and opium. If there be any possibility of carrying it out abrupt acquisition of the new habit is the oezi v?ay. 3* The third maxim is, "Seize the first possible opportunity to act on every resolation you make and on every emotional prompting you may experience in the direction of the habits you desire to gain". It is only by action that habit can be established. 4, James sugi^est another pr inc iple, "Keep the faculty of effort alive in you by a little gratuitous exercise every day." This is necessary because habit grooves out general as well as particular forms of discharge.. Thus a man may acquire a habit of industry or of laziness which will influence him, » ^n every department of his life. The idea of doing something we do not want to do just to keep the faculty of effort alive seems however a little ludicrous. There are plenty of -24- things to be done that will serve the same purpose and at the same time accomplish some Tr?orthrhile end. Bagley sums up the preceding la'.vs in one inclusive statement which calls for "The focalization of consciousness upon the process to be made automatic; attentive repetition of this process, permitting no exceptions until automatism results." As these rales are adopted and action follows precept habits become established but during the time of their form- ation there may be certain periods of no or only slight im- provemant. Such periods are called plateaus and have proven very difficult to explain. Several theories have been ad- vanced to interpret their significance. Colvin has summed these up rather v/ell. Bryan and Karter hold that they arise because the attention is directed to the completing of a lower order of habits that are reaching their maximum development. But it has been proven that no order of habit is entirely perfected before another sets in. Peters says, "Plateaus in habit formation occur v/hen a change in method is necessary to farther improvement". In tjrping and tele- graphy for example, he says the required change consists in the substitution of --ords and phrases for letters as the units of performance. Edman holds the view that, "Some of - the less pbservable features of s}.ill .in performance .vhich 1. (Ed. Values J.17) 2. (The Learning Process p.42*4:3) S. (Human Conduct ) 4. (Eumafi Traits and their Social Significance !̂  p-9^— -25- oniy later become overt in speed and accuracy are being attained during these seemingly profitless and d i sc ouragring intervals." Bennett likens it to the holding up of traffic while improvements are being uiade in the road. BooJc as quoted by Colvin has another solution to offer. ^e concludes that "the plateaus are dae to lengthy periods of lapses of attention, relaxations of interest and effort." After a time of concentration the mind wanders. If ner objects of atten- tion and nevi' modes of reaction are found the plateau stage may toe avoided or lessened. ThlB latter explanation seê ns the most practical one. D. E. Oolcord says, "Put a man in a ne?: environMitflt ana all his old habits are broken up and he must learn new ones. The chane'e is stimulating at first-- it acts apon hiji as does a »acoation among new faces." Ee is interested and attends closely to his new v.oric but after a time interest lags. He thinks he can do his T.ork automatically but the habits are not. thorou;hly formed and so the risht responses cannot be made. Discouragement follovs mistakes, because he does not realize the reason of this lull. Educationalists in trying to meet this difficulty use all kinds of natural and artificial interesttto stimulate the flagging interest and 80 avoid these plateaus in the learning process. The time necessary to establish a hr.bit is dependent on a number of factors. It rill vury v.ith the emotional and volitional accompaniment, the closeness •.vith which the rules l.{The Scientific American, April 10/20, p.18 I ) -26- are observed, the number of other habits being formed sim- ultaneiusly and the general health of the system. Munster- burg says advance in habit building depends upon the local situation of the sensory track and outgoing discharge, and upon the nuantitative amount of the incoming current and of the outgoing discharge. In terms of the resistance in the nervous arcs habit formation depends on the lavjs of Primacy, Recency, Frequency, Intensity and Congruity which state that other things being equal each of these factors v;ilj deter- mine the path to be taken and the time of opening it. Because of these influencing factors it is almost impossible to devise an exact method of raeasuriug h&bit. Any scheme that might be used to meL.sare learning could of course be adapted here, for habit formin{j is really a process Of learning. The development in acquiring skills is prob- ably most easily measured, for example the progress in learn- ing to typev.Tite can be measured fairly definitely by the increase in accuracy and the decrease in the time consumed. But there are no definite measurements that can be applied to adequately measure all mental and physical habits. There are hov/ever certain indications which \-:e may note as signigicant of the on coming and establishing of habit. The most oatstaading of these is the ability to* repeat the action with lessened effort and attention. The volition element so necessary at first is in some cases, no 1.(Psychology and Life p. 6) -2 7- longer needed. Gradually the gaidance of the action involved slips down into the unconscious. Thus Eeid says, "what v:e have been accustomed to do Vv̂e acquire not only a faculty but a proneness to do on like occasions so that it requires a particular will and effort to forbear it, but to do it requires very often no will at all. V/e are carried by habit as by a stream in swimming if we make no resistance." Another factor we might note is that the process is capable of being set in action by a slighter cue. This is especially true in regard to a series of connected actions as the routine duties of office life. They must be learned individually at first but come to follow each other auto- matically. In the third piece as htbit begins to gain con- trol it becomes less liable to disturbance from accorapinying circumstances, and when disturbance does take place it is productive of greater impatience. Errors ere gradually eliminated as the process becomes automatic and so accuracy is one of the distinguishing features of the ne-:;ly formed habit, Y/hen firmly established, ease, rapidity and general efficiency also characterize the habit. The question as to hor; far absolute definiteness of response to stimuli is a requisite of habit formation and. an indication as to its perfectibility has been discussed » to some extent. Some hold that repetition is not the essence of habit. A child forms the habit of attending school reg- 1.(Hamilton's Edition, 7ol. II p.550) -28- ularly every day in the school year but when the holidays come the habit has no pov.-er over him. Dewey syas, "The essence of habit is an acquired predisposition to -ways or modes of response, not to particular acts except as under- special conditions they express a way of behaving." Habit he says means special sensitiveness or accessibility to certain classes of stimuli. This brings at to the question of varying responses. A man with the habit of giving way to anger may have his temper aroused by certain stimuli but his responses may vary from using violent language to com- mitting murder. Or we might notice the responses made by a bank mtnager during- the days work. He is so v;ell guided by his established habits of shrewdness,.resourcefulness etc. that he sel'dom makes a "faax pas" in spite of the various demands made upon him. How can we reconcile such variation with the physiological basis of habit which maint a ins t hat "re-pê 44; i on^caus-e s-a—eh-ange^:n—the-^tls sv t andr-̂ t*4-«-4-i-«-su«--iŝ _a-new-_h-â >i4;-wh ic h- main-t a4ra.«--t4iat "repetition causes a change in the tissue and this tissue is a new habit of cohesion". From this point of view repetition must mean the formation of openings for a number of paths along the one arc. The general but not the par- ticular direction of discharge is laid out. On the other hand we may affirm that modes of 2. 1. (Human Hature and Conduct p.45) 2. (peters. Human Conduct p.26) -29- response are often just as definite as the sensitiveness to certain stimuli. 'Tie might mention the oft quoted story of the old veteran v:ho dropped his lunch on hearing the familiar call to attention. V7e also note that skills are the performing of definite responses to certain stimuli, but this definiteness has only come graduall" as the useless movements have been eliminated in the learning process. The possibility of habit formation is not con- fined to &ny special time in the life of the individual except in so far as the habits to be acquired are based on instincts which are transient and so must be established when opportunity offers. It is however generally conceded that habits are most easily and successfully established in youth. It is then that the brain is plastic and more susceptible to stimuli. Habits established at this time become firmly ingrained in the developing brain. This is ^hy passages learned in youth are better remembered than those learned in later years. The child's plasticity is an advantage from the point of viev, of final attainment and a disadvantage from the point of view of rapid progress. Habits v.-hich have been learned previously are in a large measure the means of rapid learning of a ne.' form of activ4 ity. The adult in so far has an advantage over the child in that he has mor^ habits of control which he e n apply to the ne. Situation. But although adults can attain more rapid ^ T 1 improvement, they cannot attain such a high rank because the older habits are not exactly like the ones which have to be flfc formed in the ner: task and therefore they interfere with the formation of the ner.-er habits. Consequently because the habits acquired in youth become so firmly established and because they interfere to a certain extent in the forming of new habits it is of great importance that these early habits should be those which v;ill b© of greatest value to the individual. Of course all habits can not be established at this time because of the immaturity of the child. James says, "If the period between tv.enty and thirty is the critical one in the formation of intellectual and profeBSional hatits, the period below tî euty is more important still for the fi:iing of personal habits properly so called such as vocalization and pronunciation, gesture. motion, and address. Hardly ever is a language learned after f.venty spoken v.ithout a foreign accent. Hardly ever can a youth transferred to the society of his betters unlearn the nasality and other vices of speech bred in him by the asso- ciation of his -rowing years." The great opportunity of the educationalist lies in the fact that the school age and nerve plasticity are practically identical. During this period ^e form not only habits of thought and action but habits of • attitude to life and to life's problems. What an individual regards as right or v.-rong. what he v.ill cherish or champion l.{Text Book of Psychology, p.144) -31- iu industry, government, and art depends in large measure on his early education and training and on the opinions and beliefs of other people rith whom he repeatedly comes in contact. The child is so susceptible that impressions made at home and at school soon become permanently fixed in him. In this sense truly,"the child is father of the man." Peters says, "Outside of their ov.n basiness the ideas gained by men before they are twenty-five are prao- ticaily the only ideas they shall have all their lives. The mental grooves and channels are set, the power of assimi- Istion gone." Desires that have been set up tend to go on in the same direction. To quote the old adage^as the t'.vig is bent the tree is inclined". This explains the difficulty of turning baclc, of ohani,ln£ habits of action and thought. A man who has established the money makini:, habit goes on speculating and attempting to get more long after he has acquired an abundance. A man who has been brought up to dig ditches finds it difficult to rise above his position. In this connection James says, "Habit alone prevents the hardest and most repulsive v;alks of life from being deserted by those brought up to tread therein. It keeps the fisher- man and the deck-hand at sea through the winter; it holds the miner in his darkness, and nails the countryman to his* log-cabin and his lonely farm through all the months of sno^; it protects us from invasion by the natives of the 1, (Human Conduct p.266) 2. (Psychology Vol. 1. p. 121) -32- desert and the frozen tone. It aooms as all to fight out the battle of life upon the lines of our nurture or our etrly choice and to make the best of a pursuit that disagrees because there ia no other for .-.hich vre are fitted, and it is too late to begin again." V.'e see then the in:port&.nce of a good start, of setting up in youth those habits which v.ill be assets in late^ years v.hen it v.ill be too late to attain them. Home says, "By the age of thirty iiiO; t of us are the servants of our past selves," for Just as the lapse of days hardens putty and concrete, so the lapse of years gradually reduces the plasticity of the nervous system until finally the .vhole is practically set like some plastic cast of a man." It is the duty therefore of every parent and every teacher to see to it that while the nerve cells are plaetic the child ac- quires a rreat fund of those habits which v.ill prove necess- ary and useful, throughout life. This is necessary in each succeeding '..eneration because the l&v of the non-transmission of acquired characters excludes the possibility of children receivin£' any direct benefit from the habits of their parents. 1. (Principles of iiduoation, p.2y8) -33- CHAPTBE 17 A Classification of Habits To attempt a classification of habits cult matter for habits are so wide in their app to include every phase of life and conduct. It ally impossible , to make any grouping that will •whole field, re might make a classification fr al viewpoint as habits of manner and habits of from the mental viewpoint as habits of volition of thought. Or we might consider habits as to is a diffi- lication as is practic- cover the om the physic- skill, and and habits their scope whether particular or general, or as to their economic value whether productive or consumptive. Again we mi habits into two groups organized from the ethic view as moral or immoral, good or bad. So one groupings is all inclusive. -e shall ho-ever c last and as far as possible classify habits as moral, for not only is this the most common gro fe-ht divide al point of of these 1 hoose the moral or im- uping but it is the one which has the most practical interest. Oar first problem is to discover -what habit bad or :-ood and so deter^iine a basi.-. Tor ification. Gordy says, "Bad habits are those •: favorable to gro-^th," and this is true whether I.(New Psychology, p.185) make s a , th3 3lass- 'hich are un- Y.'e mean -34- physical.mental,0r spiritual growth. Ve T.'ould class Y^alking incorrectly, overeating, observing carelessly, judging on insufficient data etc., in this group. habits are those serviceable to one's that of his fellows". This hedonistic as the highest by modern ethical philo Edman says, "Good own happiness and to viev; is nor recognized sophers. To make it more acceptable we might modify the statement some?.'hat and consider it from a perfection viewpoint as, good habits are those serviceable in the production of ion in the individual and in society. are those v.hich are disserviceable and good. But hov; are v.-e to judge betv/een are serviceable ,and those which are no objectively our critereon of judgment immediate overt effects and in its ult upon physique and character. the highest perfect- Conversely bad habits non productive of those habits vjhich t? Subjectively and lies in a habit•s imate consequences The great class of habits which are usually referred to 7,'hen -.ve speak of immoral h appetites such as smolciBg, drinking, t immediate overt effects of such are re their cons umj)t ion of time and energy. abits are the acquired aking drugs etc. The adily discernible in They are also accom- panied by a demoralizing effect and tend to v;eaken both mind and body. From a social point o f view too, such habits are a menace for their expression may cause great 1.(Human Traits and their Social Significance,p.i 6) T̂fTf -35- distress ana discomfort to many besides the individual v,"ho expresses them. Another group of habits which -.ve class as immoral includes all those -.vhose immediate effects are destructive socially. These are such habits as stealing, gambling and gossiping -which besides beinr detrimental to the individual's character, should be -.-iped out because of their overt effects on society. Legislation deals with such habits but only in a way as to prevent their public expression rather than to uproot them. We also class as immoral all those unnecessary habits r;hich to a large extent have their orieiin in the nervous constitution of the individual. Such habits as biting the lips, 'tapping the foot ,or fingering one's watch chain not only are useless but they consume valuable time and ener/-y. They wear out the nervous system and are annoy- ing to others. One of the drawbacks of modern civilization lies in this fruitless waste of energy. '"e rush from one thing to another and even in our leisure moments — if v;e have any — few have learned the habit of relaxation. This continual tax upon our nervous system is bound to have a destructive effect individually and nationally. Regarding ,_, the unhappy effect of many acquired personal h;.:bits ve need only remind ourselves of how mtny public addresses are spoiled for us by the speaker's irritating mannerisms. And how • -S6- often we are compelled to admit that certain worthy people get on our nerves because of their unpleasant habitudes. Even more undesirable are immoral mental habits such as mental laziness, fickleness, indecision etc. For in the long run habits of thought are more influential than habits of action for they outlive the latter in many cases. This has been demonstrated various times when legislation has endeavored to bring about changes in a people by chang- ing outward conditions. More than once have attempts to clean up slum districts failed because outer conditions only,- were altered. Raising wages will not better the conditions of poor unless their standard of living is rais^also. As Dewey says, "This is why glowing predictions of the immediate coming of a social millenium terminate so uniformly in dis- appointment. Habits of thought outlive modifications in habits of overt action." A new generation must come v.hose habits of mind -have been formed under the new conditions or whose mincig are at least plastic enough to receive them. It is encouraging to note that there is nothing in the nature of the law of habit to make the formation of bad habits necessary. The law of habit tends to make UB what- ever we want to be enough to express our desires in action. ̂ If then we take care to cultivate habits of honesty, thrift and attention we will become as it were immane to dishonesty thriftlessness and inattention. A temperate man finds it 1.) 2 ) Human Eature & Conduct, p. 108. -37- practioally impossible to be intemperate. The habits of right living take just as strong a hold on us as those which are injurious, and the former when firmly established make the acquisition of the latter practically impossible. The habit of decision forestalls the habit of indecision. How important then that -we should establish these habits not only for their own sake but also as a protection against the opposing destructive habits. The futility of such propositions as sowing wild oats to get them out of the system becomes apparent. Physiologically we know it to be true that what a man so\vs that and that only shall he also reap. If bad habits have been formed however^ we may yet be able to eradicate them. The laws of habit breaking are essentially the same as those of habit forming. Had- field would hold that all that is necessary is the exposing of the repressed morbid complex underlying the habit but we must disagree. This is not sufficient to break even such a simple habit as that of a child sucking his thumb. Bather we must look to James' rules as the surest aid in habit breaking. ^e mmst launch ourselves with a strong initiative marshalling all our forces against the undesirable habit ^ and never allo-̂ 'ing it to express itself. In time we will probably be able to overcome it, especially if we put some- thing else in its place. Some contend that the only way to -38- overcome a bad habit is to replace it vith another. And certainly v;e find this to be the most success ful method. The possibility of modifying formed habits mast necessarily have a physiologically explanation. Sea- shore says, "liodif icati on is possible because neural paths are not formed by the actual growing- together of successive neurones in the chain, the neurones lie in bunches like live •wires, most delicately insulated in such a way that a new path may be forced through at any synapse and old paths may be blocked by interference or disuse**. If the habit is firmly intrenched the process may be long and difficult but gradually we shall find that, "the old order changeth giving place to new". Much time and energy will however be conserved if v,'e guard against the formation of unprofitable habits for it is evident that it is much easier to avoid say the first dose of some narcotic than to break the habit of taking it once it has been established. Just as importfant as avoiding the formation of immoral habits is the necessity of guarding against the incorrect formation of good habits. Bennett says, "The waste caused through forming imperfect habits is like building an elaborate machine to make one article. If adjusted to tarn out a bad product it will be absolutely Bare never to turn out a good one. You cannot improve its production by speeding it up nor by working it longer hours. 1,(Introduction to Psychology p.222) 2.fPs •choloev and Self Development,p.48) j^i''->^'' - i '. Yet ssanjf & c b i l l i s s eek ln r to i.aprovt iiis j}^.-nm^'atiilp s ijjjp.ly by v r i t i ng - more or h i r a b i l i t y to Btady eimply t;; 51 adoring • more ." As t r a l y as p r a c t i s e tuuket p e r f e c t If the p r a e t i e e Iv p e r f e c t , p r a a t i s e la&kes Imjierfeat i f the prt iCtiso is of th&t s o r t . A t t e n t i v e and c o r r e c t i v e e f f o r t tov.sr<l the ld«&l at «ao]^ r e p e t i t i o n alone can insure c o r r e c t hab i t fo rmat ion , "e must a l s o avoid deve loping a h a b i t to excess* This m&y &ot !>• p o s s i b l e in soae oases but i t i s in o t h e r s . .'• aay for •Xftwpla dovelop emotional h a b i t s too f a r . If «« a l l o v oer« ta l f t enot lona to sur$e through us each r e p e t i t i o n e s t a b l i s h e s tli«« nore f i rmly u n t i l i t i s imposs ib le to oon t ro l thea* S i a i l a r l l y the h a b i t of optlKism i f developed to the e x t e n t «h«r« ono oan see no e v i l , i s d e t r l i a e n t a l . A s t rong w i l l , u s ing the term in the n a r r o . e r sense as applying to a c t s Thich ceanot he i n a t t e a t i v e l y pe r - forwed, is a g rea t a id in the prevf^ntion and care of iamcsral b«>blts. I t ac t c as the d r i v i n g power th&t coEpeis ta a c t i o n . I n t e A t Biay l ag and p l e a s u r e say wane bat Tfill poTcr proves the u n f a i l i n g i n c e n t i v e . •'•« deoidfc for example to c e i . b i i t b a h a b i t of exero i s . ln r regal&riy but. r r i thcut rill po-^er to force us t o ao t ioh f & i i a r e r i l l " a i m a c t inevStcbiy r e t u i t un- l e s s the o x t r i n s i o i a p u l t e s are stront^ eco^ ih to Qveraome t . e i t t h i b i t o r y i a p a l s e s . Our duty t h e r e f o r e i s to s a r s b a i l the powers of the v:ill to the sappor t of th*- vorihy acti ;>n. In • peaking of i ? l l l *« «»»? have gi^eii the popular iffipr«»«i^o t h a t I t i t a s e p a r a t e f a c u l t y . Such i c f e r e a c e is d i f f i s a l t &t -40- to avoid but modern psycholo^ists agree that the will properly speaking is simply a convenient appellation for the whole range of mental life as vie7.-ed from the standooint of control. Angell says, "The vrhole mind active this is the will." A v-ell developed -.vill consists in the ability voluntarily to direct oiie's attention effectively and for unlimited periods in definite directions. All thoughtful activity facilitates the development of a strong v/ill. Eeas- on has & very important part to play bat it is only one f&ctor and may not htve the determinins influence for vol- untary action involves all mental activity. As James says, "Voluntary action is at all times a resultant of the com- poinding of oar impulses and inhibitions. The choice made will be determined by the education, ideals, and habits instilled in the individual in the past and v.ill be in accordance with previous action. A weak v.illfdpe rson deviates from the path, laid out for him by his ideals, to gratify present s at i r, f ac t ion. A strong v.illed person keeps his ideal ever before him and fixes his attention on the matter in hand as a step to'.vard the attainment of that ideal. An individual v,ho simply follo.vs the stronger impulse acts without volition at all. A strong v.ill then, aids in the formation of habits which v.hen established will function » without its intervention. Habits disburden the v.-ill and thus give to it the chance to adapt itself to higher parposei;. 1.(Psychology p.4S5) 2.(Talks to Teachers p.176) -41- 7/ill is itself lar^-ely a matter of habit. For even if a child is born v.ith the possibilities of developing strong will pov.'er and his parents encourage him rather in indulging his every desire and never encourage the habit of resistance in him the time Vv'ill come '.vhen resistcxace will be impossible. Children may however be guided to form habits of decision, firmness, etc. which •will all aid in the form- ation of a strong volitional power. Maher says "Each solicitation conquered, each impulse to immediate gratification resisted by building up habits of self control goes to form a strong -̂ ill and the stronger a- man's will gro-.vs the greater the facility with which he can repress transitory impulses and the more firmly can he adhere to a course once selected in spite of obstacles This is only the law of habit which provides for the regist- ration of every action and in such a way as to make similar action easier in the future. It is useless to say, "I will not this time but I know I could if 1 really exerted my will. Such a response becomes ingrained as a habit and will power is weakened. But if we create the habit of the domin^Ece of the will it becomes capable of de tenniji ing the issue of every conflict so certainly and easily that conflicts can" hardly arise. McDougall says. "The motive to do the right becomes a fixed and consolidated habit." 1. (Social Psyoholo;y p.262) -4 2- And so v:e see habi t ' re aching out over the vhole field of conciuct. The type of actions v.e generally choose iB fixed by habit, and ,̂-111 power v.-hich puts our choice int|) action is generated in the power house of habit. Our future is therefore determined by the habits not only of action but also of volition which v;e are creating in the present. 7;e become enslaved to our past, but unconscious- ly for our slavery only consists in doing exactly -.vhat s seems good or what v,e desire most to do. This is in essenc^ the theory of determinism but it is a determi-nism that is directed. It's proper direction depends on the habits of reason and reflection we hcve developed and -ivhich act as guide posts to the will. "'"e have here the ancient's ideal of a free man as one in -;hom reflection and reason are established as habits, and v.ho therefore is set free from the promptings of appetite and sense. We cannot overestimate the .vorth of tood h.. bits. It has been said that perhaps the most valuable habit to form is the habit of forming good habits. Gare as to what habits we allor our nerve cells to act^re is of vast importance. The habit of reflection should be our ^aide ^ and it should be follor.ed by habits of decision and •olitioji To establish physical habits, action m:.st follov.^for-• ho by talcing thought alone can add one cubit to his stature?" A man mast really be rhat he purposes to be'. T;e may con- -43- cludewith Tfarren, "Habits are useful and indispens ible in so far as they fit us for coping with the conditions of life and in that they form the basis of more compled acquisitions They are detrimental and undesirable when they become so firmly fixed as to prevent us adapting our behaviour to new conditions. -44- CHAPTEE V. Some Values of Habit Formation We shall now attempt some valuation of habit formation, considering the advantages and the disadvantages to be derived; and establishing its importance as a conduct- control* 7'e have noted that the essential characteristics of well formed habits are, diffusion of attention, reduction of consciousness, and greater ease and efficiency of reaction. Such characteristics pertain both to good and bad habits and are of such importance in the case of the former that althoug^ mention has been made of them before we shall elaborate on them here. Our mental energies would be soon outworn if \se had to give our undivided attention to each act we perform. But fortunately this is not necessary. In learning to play the piano for instance, at first attention has to be given to each separate impulse, each icey, rest, accent etc. Later it can be withdrawn from the details and given to larger relationships. Then after considerable practise the system of pathways becomes so interconnected and perfected that as the eye runs over the piece, the incoming stimuli of themselve^ pass directly to the appropriate responses. Attention may -45- therefore be T.-ithdravrn and turned to other matters "'ithout interrupting the process. One is conscious of v;hat is going on but more as an onlooicer than as a director. Hot only is it possible for a habit to function without attention but consciousness itself may be reduced or even eliminated in som*̂  cases. Often ™e find that vre have done certain things without having been conscious of our actions. The routine habits of daily life and all chain movements such as walicing are carried on p£-rtly or 7.'holly in this automatic vray. Some claim that it is only as they sink into the subconscious that habits really become effec- tive and we see this to be true in vrhat Bagley calls idea- motor habits. He says, "If one is to speak or write effec- tively the form must be largely outside the focus of consc- iousness". The little conventionalities of etiquet'^e — those habitual adjustments that make the person of good breeding must be so fixed by aonstant and in the beginning conscious repetition that they will go off v;ithout mental effort that they will become second nature." The lower centres thus take over the control of a great number of such movements and letve the higher cortical centres free for mental activity and for attaining and perfecting ne\r react, ions. It has been noticed that .̂vhen a process becomes so thoroughly automised in this way, bringing the adjustments 1. (The Educative process, p.119) -46- baclc into consciousness may interfere with its efficiency? Thus speaking or v^alking become almost impossible if v.'e attend to the individual actions involved. The subconscious centres v;ov;l • ;\ut be able to. •not carry on this work if efficiency di. .̂  |. .̂urease v/ith the on-coming of habit for some movements when first performed are so difficult that they can only be accomplished with the maximum of attention. But after a certain amount of repetition even these begin to take shape and are performed with greater ease and efficiency. V/hen firmly established they, go off with the ease and alacrity of reflexes. Vague purposeless movements give place to definite movements performed for definite purposes, sensations become more explicit, perceptions become clearer, memory becomes more accurate and reasoninE becomes more correct and lo-ical. Accordingly an inestimable amount of time and energy is saved as illustrated in the time v.'orn example of the cat . secured in the latched box. By comparing its first attempts to get out with its learned response, -ve obtain some idea of the advantage gained. It v.-ould be impossible for us to make much advance if such progress did not take place for all our pô .ers and time v.ould be taken up in performing these trivial movements .̂hich are at least just as succesS- fully carried on unconsciously. As efficiency increases and the mind is left free -47- to attack other problems the field is opened for further bavit formation. The nature of the nev; habits ?,'ill depend to some extent on that of the old, for habits attract the formation of similar habits. Peters says, "Ones whole oharac- stands watch and demands the credentials of his separate habits as they present themselves and admits to favor only those in harmony v.'ith that system until his life has come to be built up around that ideal which he has chosen for himsel© We are enabled to build on what v;e have. Just as a constructc mast lay his foundation before he can erect .his building so must lay our foundation habits before we can erect an ad- equate structure of habitual reactions. So h&bits of thought and decision must precede habits of judgment. The broader the foundation we lay the greater possibility -ve have of acq.uir- ing more habits.' "To him that hath shall be given" we'find psychologically true. A child v.̂ ith a good collection of useful habits has the equipment for further development. ",7e find accordingly that in time the brain attains a certain "set" which causes the individual to respond to nê:v influence* in an habitually predetermined manner.. '.Ve can predict Tvith no small certainty the response that one '̂hom we know,well will make to certain stimuli. If the set is broad in its application determining a person to act refleS^ tively, to welcome new achievemnets to show sympathy to others etc it will prove of great value as a progressive factor. 1̂^ (Human Oonduct p.265) -48- 3ut if the set formed is conservative tending to narrov; the individual's interest and sympathy to a limited sphere it will prove a drawback from the point of view of progress. Many holding strictly to the conservative point of view fail to recognize the distinction in the kind of habits to be attained and designate them all as restrictive. Sully says, "Habit is the element of persistence, of custom, the Qonservatioe tendency, and that since growth implies flexib- ility, modiflability, susceptibility to new impression, habit is in a manner opposed to growth." This is the popular view of habit. Mankind is pictured as being driven along in fixed paths which have become worn into such deep ruts that deviation from them is practically impossible. Not only physically but also mentally are we bound by these restrictions. Dewey says, ••Habits restrict the reach and fix the boundaries of thought. They are the blinders that confine the eyes of the mind to the road ahead." If we do not eonstantly struggle to keep ourselves fresh and open minded -e all fall before we know it into certain fixed and one sided ways of looking at life's problems. Peters says, "Eabit will crystallize our mental conduct in some definite shape so that we can apperceive in- only one dominrTit. way". There must be an everlasting struggle in every mind between the tendency to keep unchanged and the tendency to renovate its ideas. Most of us grow more and more 1.(Psychology, Vol. ii. p. ^i) 2.(Human Hature and Conduct, p. 172) 3. (Human Eat-ire and Conduct, p. 25 ) -49- enslaved to the stock conceptioris v;ith v.hich we hcve once be- 00326 familiar and less and less capable of assimilating im-- pression in any but the old r.ays. A great many individuals have rater tirht compartments filled v.ith old reaction eysteras which resist the storm and stress of adult life. The mind thus may take a conservative set which if not interfered rith tends to dominate all thought and action. Early religious and social training especially is modified v-'ith difficulty or not at all. '.Vays of belief, of ei^peotat ion, of judgment and attitude, emotional dispositions of like and dislike are not easily modified after they have once taken shape. And this is all due to the p07,'er of habit. Judd cites an inst- ance Of a man who had voted for one party all his life. On one occasion a i;riend of his in the opposing party was nom- inated for some petty local 'office. The old hardshell v.̂ orked faithfally for his friend until election day and then the habit of a lifetime pro-̂ ed too much for him and he v;ent to the polls and voted against his friend. Under such conditions purposive action is im- possible. But v.'e have seen that there are certain habits which- ̂ ve may form v/hioh tend to keep us out ot these ruts such as habits of reflection, of open- miindidness and all those v̂e classified as good habits. Sully says, "Although' deliberation is a slo'.ving and complication of action a sustitution of a reflective for an impalsive and quasi-mech- 1. (Genetic Psychology for Teachers, p.66) 2. {The Human Mind, Vol. II p. 260) -50- anical process, it comes under the modifj-ing influenoe of practise or habit.". counterpoise to the habitual actions ten Such habits Trill form an important hardening and f oss il i zat ion v.-hich certain d to bring about in the nervous system. In reflective thought we subject our accustomed ways to de- liberate analysis ho have become, and del of the more desirabl come to be regarded v.ever immediately persuasive these may iberately insitute mew habits in the light e consequences they will bring. Habits not as final or as good in themselves but as means of accomplishing good. And habits of thought can only accomplish good restriction. Gordy know and feels that error they cannot be minds to all further if they are unhampered and free from says, "An open-minded reasoner is one who when men have done their utmost to avoid so sure they are right as to shut their consideration." The -formation of such an attitude into a habit 'rould free us from slavery to stock conception and from inevitable terminus drifting into "•hat some consider the to -.vhioh life sv.'eeps us on — old fogyisqi. some indeed do fall heir to such a fate and so illustrate the ine:.orable force of habit. Those v;ho escape l%;ever are not less they have created ai such a nature as to ation. Habits of c we have mentioned 1« just as gripping in !• (New controlled by habit, but the habits which Id which govern their reactions, are of encourage progress rather than fociliz-» ' lear thinking, keen judgment and such as 3ad us to investigate new paths and become their way as those habits which tend to Psychology, p. 185) -51- conf ine us to a much narro-ver field. These in fact are the only agencies by -vvhich progress can be effected, "'hat Scientist employed in research could make any contribution to the v.orld if his life v.'ere not based on habits of industry, accuracy, observation etc. Un- directed thought is useless and without poi/;er to accomplish anything. There mast be a certain discrimination. Yery few can be really successful in more than one field and so blinders are necessary to confine the thought and attention to that field, and to shut out those things that might interfere, mthout this regulation we have an unbalanced state of mind tending to confusion. Dewey says, "Outside the scope of habit, thoueht works gropingly fumbling in confused uncertainty." It lacks means of execution and tends to become theoretical and often impossible' of application and so is of little value. adequately Physically development takes place most^through well regulated habits of diet, exercise, and rest. Unless we habitually folio.; out these regulations gro-.th will be hindere; or checked. Ethically our progress consists in the acquisition of moral habits and the worth of such training may also be measured in the disciplinary exercise of the will. Gontroll- iag a bad temper, exercising self denial, order, effort etc accustom a youth to act according to a fixed rule or plan instead of vacillating and changing with the impulse of the . n^oment. "'e cannot have such habits too deeply ingrained for 1. (Human Haiuye and Conduct, p. 172) - 5 E - upon them deoeods the h a p p i n e s s and '.vorth of t he i n d i v i d u a l and EC of t he s t a t e . 'warray s a y s , " In f a c t a l l hope of i n t e l l e c t u a l and moral improve me nt r e s t s or4 the power of r e f o r m i n g h a b i t s . " 1 Maher c o n c l u d e s , "The t o t a l c o l l e c t i o n of man ' s aoo^aired moral h t - b i t s g r a f t e d i n t o h i s n a t u r a l temperament make up h i s c h a r a c t e r . I t i s a c o m b i n a t i o n of n a t u r e , h i s i n h e r i t e d c h a r c c t e r , and n u r t u r e , h i s e x p e r i e n c e s . " But by f a r t h e g r e a t e r power i n c o n t r o l l i n g c o n d a c t i s to be found in t he h a b i t s of r e a c t i o n t h a t he has s e t u p . ..e have s e e n i n f a c t t h a t t h e s e embrace the i n h e r i t e d f a c t o r s mod i fy ing some of t h e r e f l e x e s and i n s t i n c t i v e t e n d e : i c i e s i n t o h a b i t s and c r u E h i n c out o t h e r s . I n n a t e pov.er no i r .a t ter how s t r o n g i s h e l p l e s s u n l e s s d i r e c t e d by h a b i t . On t h e o t h e r band weakness laay be c o n v e r t e d i n t o f t r e n t t h by the f o r m a t i o n of the r i r h t k ind of ^ a b i t s . G . . r l y l e s a y s , "Trie weakest l i v i n g c r e a t u r e by c o n c e n t r u t i n e h i s powers On a zia^ie o b j e c t can a c c o m p l i s h s o m e t h i n e whereas the s t r o n g e s t by d i a p e r s i n e h i s over many may f a i l to a c c o m p l i s h a n y t h i n r . The d rop by c o n t i n u a l l y f a l l i n g b o r e s i t s p a s s a g e Ibroufch the h a r d e s t roc-K." Ben j .min Kidd s a y s , "The o u t l o o k of a n , p e o p l e may be changed i n one, gene r a t ion by working , , i t h the y o u n g . " We may conc lude t h e n t h a t t h e r e i s no f a c t o r Ox t h e i n d i v i d u a l ' s p h y s i c a l o r men ta l make up but which comes unde r t h e law of h a b i t . Our v e r y i m p a l s c s . e m o t i o n s , d e s i r e s . 1 . {Handbook of P s y a h o l o g y . p . H ) 2 . [ P s y c h o l Jgy , p . 3 9 1 ) 3 . \ The S c i e n c e of Power) -53- tLou^hts, and even our vill pover are subject to the saise dominating principle. Ivo response but has some part in deter- ining our future, no smallest stroke of virtue or vice but maices its lasting impression on our nervous system and so helps to deterraiue the heaven or hell T e :r.a>e icr ourslves in this 7:orld. Once nore r:e refer to James rho says, "All our life so far as it has definite form is but a mass of habits practical, emotional and intellectual — systematic- ally organized for our rreal or tsoe and hearing us irrestible toward our destiny T.hatever the latter may be." 1. (Tal&s to Teachers, p.65i -54- ,Bibliography Angell, J. B «,Psychology. Henry Holt and Company, Kew York, 1906 Bagley, ":'. C , The EducatiT«. Process. The Macmillan Co., Sew York, 1922. Bain, Alexander, The Emotions and the "ill. Longmans, Green, and Co., London, 1875. The Senses and the Intellect Longmans, Green and Co., London 1822. Baldv;in, James Mark, Mental DeveloiPHient The Macmillan Company, London 1903. Bennett, B.C. Psychology and Self Deve lornaent Ginii iind Company, Boston, 1920. Bowne, B-P., Introduction to Fsvcholo?ical Theory. Harper and Brothers, 1886. Colvin, S. S., The learning Process. The Llacmillan Co., Kev; York, 192. Dewey, John, Human Mature and Conduct Henry Holt and Company, Mê ^ York, 1S22. Brummond, '7. B., An Introduction to Child Study Edward Arnold, London 1907. Dunlap, Knight, Elements of boientifio Psycholofry. G. V. Mosby Co., St. Lomis, 1922. Edman, Irwin, Human Traits and their Social Significance Houghton, Mifflin, Co., i:ew York, 1920. Freeman, F. IS., How Children Learn. Houghton Mifflin, Co., Boston. Gehring, J. G., The Hope of the_ Variant. Charles bcribner's Sons, Lew YorK, London, 1923, Gcr.dy, J. B., Hew Psychology • Hinds and Hoble, Kew York, 1598 Hadfield, J. A., Psychology and i-lorals (2nd. ed.) Methuen and Co. Ltd., London. — 5 5- Hollingswortli& Poppenbenger , Applied Psyeholosy i;ilppleton & Co., Sew York, 1916. Hoffman, P. S., PsyGriolO::" and Oommon Life G. P. Patii&oj's Sons, >Tê ^ York, 1903. Borne, E. E . Psya'nologjcal Principles of Edaoation. The Macmillan Co., Ke-s York, 1907. James,'^m-. Psychology. Yolamel-. Henry Holt and Co., 1895. James. Wm., Text Book of Psychology ^lacmillan and Co., 1906. Judd, C. H., Genetic Psychology for Teachers. D. Apple ton Compaay, i;ev; York , 190 9. Ladd & Woodworth, Elements of Phys iolo.rical Psychology Charles Scribners Sons, Mew York.1915. Loveday & Greene, Introduction to Psychology. Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1915. llaher, M. , Psycholoej;. Longmans Green i: Co., 1900 Kunsterherg, Hugo, Psycholoe.y and Life. Hout-hton Kifflin Co., Boston & New York, 1899. Murray, J. Clark, Handbook of Psychology, De "Volfe Fiske & Co., Boston, 18S7. Peters, G. C., Human Conduct. The Kacmillan Co., K.Y., 19 20. Pillsbury, '". B., Fundamentals of Psycholo .-:y. Kacmillan Co. , 1-i.Y., 1919. Porter, Koah, The Human Intellect. Charles ^cribner Sons, 1693. Rosimi, A., Psychology Volume T T . Kegan , Paul, Trgnch k Co., London 1665. Eoyce, Josiah. Outlines of Psvcholoey. The Macmillan Co., liiew York, 1916. Eusse^l B., Analysis of the Mind. G. Allen & Onv.in 19 21. seashore, Carl E . , Introduction to Psychology. The Macmillan Co., ^evt York, 1923. -56- Sisson, E. 0., Essentials of Character. The Macmillan Co., Hev7 York, 1915. Stephen,, Leslie, Science of Ethics Smith, Elder & Co., London 1907. Stout, G. F., Analytic Psvcholo;--y. Volume 1. Georg-e Allen & Go. Ltd.', London, 1909. Sully, James, The Human lilind. Volume II Logmans, Green & Co., London 1892. Sully, JameSf, An Outline of Psychology The Macmillan Co., Mew York, 1906. Titchener, E. B., An Outline of Psyoholo^fy The Macmillan Co., Hew York, 1906. Thorndike, E. L., ^'lements of PsyoholORy A. G. Seller, Kew York, 1907 PrinciT?les of Teaching. A. g'Seiler,, l̂ ew York, 1911. Tiieheoer.A Text Book of Fsycholoey. The Macmillan Go., heifi York, 1915. '.Varren, H. C , Human Psychology. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, Îlew York, 1920 V.'atson, J. B., Psychology from the Standpoint of a Behavioris t. Lippincott, Co., Philadelphia, 1919. V/oodworth, Dynamic Psychology. Columbia Univereity Press, Mew York, 1918.


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