Eating snacks in fast food restaurants, taking the car rather than public transport to work, spending money at Internet shops, watching TV all night … A major part of our behavioral repertoire is goal-directed and tends to become a habit after practice. Practice makes perfect. However, human habits are also considered to underlie contemporary societal problems, such as health issues and climate change. Habits can interfere with the goals that we have and share with others. Hence, a major challenge for scientists, policy-makers and professionals interested in behavioral change in societal context is to understand and appreciate the machinery of people’s goals and habits.

Our work aims to address fundamental issues as to how people perceive, set and achieve goals in social context, and how motivational and cognitive processes enable them to form and change habits. Our research is mainly experimental, using knowledge and methods from social, behavioral and neuroscience, but occasionally we also conduct survey research to examine associations between their subjectively reported feelings, thoughts and actions. Our program also addresses applications in the context of (mental) health, consumer behavior, work performance and social conflict.

Our scientific quest can be divided into three themes: Goal and Habit, Social Influence and Personal Autonomy.