|Title||How long does it really take to change a habit?|
|Publication Type||Web Article|
|Year of Publication||2009|
|Access Date||Jan 16, 2012|
|Last Update Date||Oct 9, 2009|
Everyone knows that it takes 28 days to develop a new habit, or perhaps 21, or 18, depending on who you ask; anyway, the point is that it's a specific number, which makes it sound scientific and thus indisputably true. We probably owe this particular example of pop-psychology wisdom to Maxwell Maltz, the plastic surgeon who wrote the 60s bestseller Psycho-Cybernetics. He claimed to have observed that amputees took an average of only 21 days to adjust to the loss of a limb. Therefore, he reasoned – deploying the copper-bottomed logic we've come to expect from self-help – the same must be true of all big changes. And therefore it must take 21 days to change a habit, maybe, perhaps!
This is, of course, poppycock and horsefeathers, as a new study by the University College London psychologist Phillippa Lally and her colleagues helps confirm.