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Using Hand Sanitizer

Making Habits

Right now, everyone expects to have access to hand sanitizer, and that’s especially true regarding your employees and those they serve. Not only is there an expectation to have it available to these groups – it’s also expected to be available in abundance. Is this the future of global health and wellness culture, or will the practice fade? We’re looking at the psychology behind the formation of habit to answer that question.

This is what we learned from the scholarly article, “Making health habitual: the psychology of ‘habit-formation’ and general practice.”

While often used as a synonym for frequent or customary behavior in everyday parlance, within psychology, ‘habits’ are defined as actions that are triggered automatically in response to contextual cues that have been associated with their performance, for example, automatically washing hands (action) after using the toilet (contextual cue), or putting on a seatbelt (action) after getting into the car (contextual cue).

Decades of psychological research consistently show that mere repetition of a simple action in a consistent context leads, through associative learning, to the action being activated upon subsequent exposure to those contextual cues (that is, habitually). Once initiation of the action is ‘transferred’ to external cues, dependence on conscious attention or motivational processes is reduced. Therefore habits are likely to persist even after conscious motivation or interest dissipates. Habits are also cognitively efficient, because the automation of common actions frees mental resources for other tasks.

We Do It Without Thinking About It

Contextual cues are just silent but powerful prompts. Think about what happens when verbal communication is taken out of context. It creates misunderstanding, right? The same misalignment happens when our situation or experience is an out of context one. At the beginning of the pandemic, health and wellness habits were different.

Hand sanitizer certainly wasn’t a household discussion before COVID-19. It was a sometimes-thing, not a standard practice after every physical-interaction with an object or person outside of our home. A year into the pandemic, health and wellness culture has changed. We have hand sanitizer on our desks, in our cars, on the counter at our local convenience store, and even on our keychains.

If habits are difficult to form, they’re even more difficult to break. The pandemic created a habit of sanitizing after touching anything that isn’t ours or outside of our home. It’s interesting that this became a global habit, which is a pretty powerful contextual cue – everyone does it.

Pandemic habits were so strong that they changed the health and wellness culture. We think it’s safe to say that hand sanitizing will be a global habit for a long time to come.

Vereburn is a leading provider of PPE and sanitation equipment. From masks and gloves to Covid-killing disinfectants, we’re here to help.

Check out all the different kinds of hand sanitizer we keep in stock by clicking here.


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