March 10, 2013


Filed under: Uncategorized — mvervinck @ 7:07 pm

I know I am a creature of habit.  Many days I do things without even thinking about them.  In the morning on a weekday, I wake to my alarm clock, stumble out of bed, shower, dress and go downstairs for breakfast.  I read the newspaper on my Kindle as I eat breakfast, and at 7:05 I proceed to go back upstairs to brush my teeth and find my shoes.  After that it is grab my books, coffee, keys, purse, and out the door I go.  This is great, usually, but there are some days where I need to engage a bit more so that I don’t forget something that I really need for the day, like a video for class.  I have a feeling more people are like me, creatures of habit, than not.

When I came across a book on my Kindle to read, The Power of Habit:  Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg, I purchased it to read on my Kindle.  I am only 49% of the way through it (according to the information my Kindle provides me), and I would recommend the book already because of the various good points it makes.  Some of which I can see using at work and some in my own life. One point stands out above the others.  The fact that our habits are now statistically analyzed by various stores, both online and retail establishments, to predict our future behavior.  I knew this. Most people know this. Even when I bought my Kindle, I knew that I was providing a wealth of information about my reading habits and interests, I didn’t really realize how this information was being used.  The point was driven home by the examples given in the book.  In a nutshell, one example given in the book was about a specific retail establishment who records our purchases to statistically predict whether we are or plan to be pregnant in the near future because new parents are people they want to attract to their store.  If they can attract these new parents with low prices on specific products and get them into the habit of going to their store, those people will continue to do so as their children grow out of habit.  This made me wonder two things – Just how much is private these days?  If it is possible to predict statistically about pregnancy, then what  else do they predict?  

Today I had to run some errands to get things like shampoo, a new shower curtain, and blush.  As I was picking up the items I needed, in the back of my mind I thought, “I wonder if the store knew I needed these things?” and, “I wonder what the statistical odds were that I would choose this shower curtain?”  Then, as I proceeded to the checkout and chuckled to myself I thought, “Wonder what item I could purchase that would just totally screw those statistics?”  Still thinking about that one!





  1. Interesting post…and I, too have wondered these things. Part of me does not like Big Brother knowing what I am buying…but another part says it doesn’t matter. I am still not sure…but it does give me an uneasy feeling. Now I am thinking of something strange to buy to screw those statistics!….maybe a’ how to’ magazine on professional wrestling…

    Comment by jhaworthoy — March 10, 2013 @ 7:40 pm | Reply

    • Great idea! Wonder what would happen to those stats if all “Slicers” did that! 😉

      Comment by mvervinck — March 10, 2013 @ 8:05 pm | Reply

  2. I’m an online shopper, so I am constantly aware that my shopping habits, at the very least, are being tracked. Of course, it also means that I get offers I might not otherwise receive, so it’s not always a bad thing. If you think about retail, though, haven’t store owners always paid attention to what was selling well? It just seems more invasive now that we’ve gone digital.

    Comment by Christine Margocs (@cmargocs) — March 10, 2013 @ 7:49 pm | Reply

    • I agree that retailers have tracked the overall spending habits of particular groups and demographics, but now, it is the spending habits of each individual. Where do we draw the line? Or, is there one?

      Comment by mvervinck — March 10, 2013 @ 8:04 pm | Reply

      • I don’t know if there is one. If privacy is paramount, then I guess it’s bad. But if you see it as a win-win (corporate makes a sale, consumer gets wants/needs met), it’s not. One could get mighty paranoid over the whole issue!

        Comment by Chris Margocs — March 10, 2013 @ 11:30 pm

  3. I am a total creature of habit. Thanks for the book recommendation— will definitely pick up a copy! And yes— I eemembering hearing the grocery store is set up in some type of way too. Hmmm. Something to think about, or at least be aware of when shopping next time!

    Comment by runningfancy — March 10, 2013 @ 8:52 pm | Reply

  4. This is the second time I have seen this book come up in a blog this weekend. We have been chatting about it at home and also talking about – BJ Fogg and his Tiny Habits web site. You can find him at Tiny

    Comment by gardenlearning — March 10, 2013 @ 9:00 pm | Reply

  5. This sounds like a book I would enjoy. I couldn’t help thinking about Anderson’s novel FEED when I read this. Every thought is tracked through a brain implant. The two main characters spend an afternoon making random purchases and asking random questions and expressing interest in random things just to screw with the data collection. I often wonder what Amazon thinks of my spending habits since I buy for me, my classroom, and gifts. Scarily enough, it still seems to know my tastes pretty well.

    Comment by Kay McGriff (@kaymcgriff) — March 10, 2013 @ 9:40 pm | Reply

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