Book Reviews

Book by: Charles Duhigg
Review by: Raquel Fong
Academic Success Coordinator
Arizona State University


The nature of advising, seeing students day-in and day-out, in addition to appointment follow-up, student issues, and administrative duties, is conducive to habit formation. Also, often times during student advising appointments, students display habits that affect their academic success and overall personal development. A clear understanding of how habits form leads to intentional habit formation and the ability to modify habits, in academic advisors and in students. This results in positive changes to academic advising practices and student growth and development.

The Power of Habits provides a comprehensive overview of how habits form and how new habits can be formulated and changed in individuals, corporations, and societies. Author Charles Duhigg codified habits using the habit loop, which consists of three components: cue, routine, and reward. Duhigg contends habits become automated as a result of the continuous loop of cue, routine, and reward. Furthermore, he asserts new habits formation is fueled by cravings. Through examples such as the placement of Cinnabon at the shopping mall to Pepsodent toothpaste starting a revelation in dental hygiene, Duhigg supports how habits form with the habit loop in individuals. He further explains that once there is an understanding of how habits form, individuals can begin to explore how habits can be changed.

Duhigg coined the Golden Rule of Habit Change, which describes the need to change the routine in the habit loop as the basis for transforming habits. Often times, individuals cannot control environments in which cues are present. Also, individuals cannot change the reward in the habit loop because rewards are driven strongly by cravings. Therefore, the routine aspect of the habit loop is what an individual can control and change. The Golden Rule of Habit Change is successfully demonstrated with examples of organizations and societies such the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Starbucks, and the Montgomery Bus Boycott.  

Duhigg believes the understanding of habits leads to the decision to change current habits. Ultimately, in order for habits to change, one must decide to change and consciously work on changing the habit, which takes a significant amount of willpower. This is an important concept for academic advisors to understand because instead of having the same reaction to student issues, such as failing a course, advisors can change the way they react to that cue. Also, by advisors having an awareness and understanding of habits, they can further support students by facilitating conversations that investigate their habits and guide students to changing their habits.

This book is suitable for anyone who wants to make changes in their own lives or help others to make changes. This book equips individuals with an understanding of the prominence of habits in our lives and how habits can change once we have an awareness and understanding of habits. Also, this book provides a big picture perspective through the exploration of organizations and societies and the influence of habits. The Power of Habit can also help emerging leaders look at current habits within an organization and how to use the power of habits to make positive changes. Overall, I recommend this book anyone, but specifically advisors, because understanding habits will bring self-awareness to our role as advisors and allow us to have a greater impact on student academic success and student development.


The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business. (2014). Book by Charles Duhigg. Review by Raquel Fong, New York: Random House, 416 pp. Price $16.00 ISBN #978-780812-981605

Actions: E-mail | Permalink |