The power of habit

Assignment Type: Argumentative

Audience: Students NOT enrolled in this class.

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Charles Duhigg asserts that “Habits can be changed if we understand how they work.” Explain and give examples of what Duhigg means by this: how habits work and how habits can be changed. Do you agree with his interpretation of the science he uses in his book? Often, we do not disagree with the science or the data we are presented; we are in disagreement with the way it has been interpreted and presented to us as readers. One way of looking at this topic is to see it simply: Ultimately, Duhigg’s claim is that we are not entirely in control of our behavior as much as we’d like to believe or think. This changes so much if we apply this argument to crime, addiction, study habits, hygiene, etc. A more philosophical question is this: If we can be “asleep” in our routines, are we really that in control of ourselves? When someone says, “He’s an alcoholic, he made a choice” is this an accurate argument in your opinion? Basically, I am asking you do you agree with what Duhigg is essentially arguing? Do you agree with a slight difference? Do you disagree, but agree with some of the things he is suggesting? What is he implying? If you have difficulties getting started in your essay, start off with his assertion.

Ultimately, is he weighing in on the topic of free will? If most of our habits are unconsciously learned, do we really have free will? Lots to consider.

Grading: This essay is worth 100 points. In your essay, be sure to use this checklist:

A clear, focused, and specific thesis (Remember, your thesis does not have to be at the bottom of your first paragraph. That is the 5 paragraph monster. But it should be identified)
Paragraphs with a main focus and a reasonable length
Effective explanations, summaries, and quotes that describe the ideas in the readings
Examples and details from the book or from other sources that illustrate the author’s ideas (cross-reference his sources and find them if necessary, eg. The Marshmallow Study, (Links to an external site.))
Thoughtful and in-depth discussion of the ideas from The Power of Habit
Well-written sentences
Words that effectively express ideas
Few or minor errors in the writing
Works cited page
Some Advice:

Assume your reader is someone who is NOT in our class. They are in another class. Spend time summarizing key ideas, defining any unfamiliar or important terms (eg. basal ganglia, keystone habits, the habit loop), selecting short quotes from the reading to help your reader understand the author’s ideas.
Include specific details, quotes, and examples from the reading to illustrate the author’s ideas. Similarly, include specific examples and details from your own experiences or observations so readers can understand your point of view.
Try to think beyond the obvious. Acknowledge the complexities or difficulties in the author’s ideas or your own situation. Don’t be black and white. Consider the “What abouts” and the “What ifs?”
Proofread your essay carefully. Think about the kinds of mistakes you tend to make (use your first paper as a guide), the writing we’ve been practicing in class, and the comments you received on your first essay.
Abandon the form-based approach and start from a place of purpose, audience, and content. These elements will build your context.
PURPOSE: Why are you writing? What is Duhigg “complicating?” You could begin with a They Say statement:

“In Charle’s Duhigg’s book The Power of Habit, he contends____________________________.”

“When it comes to the topic of habit formations, many people assume_______________________________.”

“I used to think__________________abouit habits. If you want a habit to change, then ____________________. But now I think________________________.”

“Habits are complicated. They aren’t as simply defined as many people tend to think. Charles Duhigg makes a compelling argument about habit formation in his book The Power of Habit. I believe __________________________________________________________. If most of what we do is out of habit, then __________________________________________________________.”

OR…you could connect unit 1 with unit 2. Do you believe we are addicted to OS 2.0? Are we addicted to “carrots and sticks?” Are companies stuck in the habit loops of old?

Hope these suggestions help 🙂

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