Introducing the Situated Assessment Method, SAM^2, a psychometric approach that establishes individual differences for constructs in situations where they occur. The psychometric instrument developed here, the SAM^2 Habitual Behavior Instrument (SAM^2 HBI), assessed the regularity of good and bad habits.
The published article can be found here: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0286954
The SAM^2 HBI established individual traits for the regularity of performing good and bad habits, with large situation effects and large individual X situation interactions. Good test reliability was achieved from broad coverage of low-coherence situations as test items.
The SAM^2 HBI also demonstrated high construct and content validity, with automaticity, consistency, immediate reward, and long-term reward predicting group habit regularity well (65% explained variance). Prediction was even stronger for individuals (median 75% explained variance), with large multifaceted individual differences.
The SAM^2 HBI also captured well-known personality effects of self-control and neuroticism on performing good versus bad habits. Cognitive-affective processes from the situated action cycle (situated and embodied cognition) explained nearly all the variance in these interactions.
A composite measure of habitualness established habitualness for behaviors at the group and individual levels. Their distribution questions the construct of ‘habit-hood.’ Most behaviors showed moderate levels of habitualness (e.g., study breaks). Only a few showed high levels.
A composite measure of reward was strongly related to habitualness at the group and individual levels, implicating reward in habitual behavior. Self-control and neuroticism modulated the reward-habitualness relation, increasing with self-control and decreasing with neuroticism.
This work is relevant to habits researchers, especially those interested in the relation between reward and habitual behavior. It is also relevant to researchers interested in situation effects and person X situation interactions, to researchers interested in the relation between personality and habitual behavior, to researchers interested in rich situational description, and to researchers interested in situated, embodied, grounded, and 4E cognition.