Impulsivity and compulsivity are differentially associated with automaticity and routine on the Creature of Habit Scale.


Habits may develop when meaningful action patterns are frequently repeated in a stable environment. We measured the differing tendencies of people to form habits in a population sample of n = 533 using the Creature of Habit Scale (COHS). We confirmed the high reliability of the two latent factors measured by the COHS, automaticity and routines. Whilst automatic behaviours are triggered by context and do not serve a particular purpose or goal, routines often have purpose, and because they have been performed so often in a given context, they become automatic only after their action sequence has been activated. We found that both types of habitual behaviours are influenced by the frequency of their occurrence and they are differentially influenced by personality traits. Compulsive personality is associated with an increase in both aspects of habitual tendency, whereas impulsivity is linked with increased automaticity, but reduced routine behaviours. Our findings provide further evidence that the COHS is a useful tool for understanding habitual tendencies in the general population and may inform the development of therapeutic strategies that capitalise on functional habits and help to treat dysfunctional ones.