A. Because an advertiser told us to.
Find a cue and provide the reward - the art of creating habits to sell things. I heard a story on NPR’s Morning Edition a while back discussing Charles Duhigg’s new book, The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business. The book talks about how habits work and how they can be used, but the part of this story that interested me the most was how habits can be created through advertising.
The specific example they give is about toothpaste. Apparently, people didn’t always brush everyday, twice a day. Claude C. Hopkins, advertiser-of-the-day, told people what the cue was when selling a toothpaste called Pepsodent - feeling a film form on your teeth. But to create the habit of teeth-brushing out of this, he didn’t just give people the solution - the toothpaste - he had to do more: he gave them the reward. If you brush your teeth, you’ll get that tingly, clean feeling. The reward creates the habit.
An interesting side note to this theory is that Duhigg told AdAge in an interview recently that you can only change habits in people when they are going through major life changes. He states, “This is one of the reasons why marketers target kids in college so much because basically all of collage is like a major life upheaval almost every year. Their habits are more malleable by outside forces when they’re going through a major life event.”