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Habits vs. Behaviors: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on January 9, 2024
Habits are repetitive actions or routines often performed unconsciously, while behaviors are broader actions or reactions of an individual, often influenced by the environment.

Key Differences

Habits are actions or routines that individuals perform regularly, often automatically, without much conscious thought. Behaviors encompass a wider range of actions and reactions, which can be conscious or unconscious, influenced by internal or external stimuli.
Habits usually develop over time through repetition and are typically hard to break, reflecting ingrained patterns of behavior. Behaviors, in contrast, can be one-off actions or responses to specific situations and may not necessarily form a consistent pattern.
Habits often represent a subset of behaviors, specifically those that are routine and repeated regularly. Behaviors are more encompassing, including all manner of actions and reactions, whether habitual or not.
The formation of habits is usually a gradual process, solidifying through frequent repetition and often linked to cues in the environment. Behaviors can be spontaneous or deliberate, shaped by immediate circumstances, thoughts, or emotions.
In changing or modifying habits, a long-term approach is often required, addressing the underlying routine and its triggers. Modifying behaviors can sometimes be achieved more immediately, especially if they are responses to specific, changeable circumstances.

Comparison Chart


Repetitive and automatic
Broad range of actions and reactions


Gradual, through repetition
Can be instant or developed over time


Often unconscious
Can be conscious or unconscious

Modification Difficulty

Generally hard to break
Can be more easily modified


Often linked to cues and routines
Influenced by internal and external stimuli

Habits and Behaviors Definitions


Habits are regular practices or routines that are performed automatically.
Brushing your teeth twice a day is a common healthy habit.


Behavior refers to the actions or reactions of an organism, usually in relation to the environment.
The behavior of animals can change dramatically in response to different seasons.


A habit is a behavior pattern followed regularly until it becomes almost involuntary.
Drinking coffee every morning has become a habit for many people.


Behaviors are the ways in which one acts or conducts oneself, especially towards others.
Her polite behavior during the meeting left a good impression.


Habits are customary ways of behavior established by frequent repetition.
She has a habit of checking her emails first thing in the morning.


A behavior is an action or reaction that an individual exhibits in response to a situation or stimulus.
Aggressive behavior in traffic can lead to dangerous situations.


Habits are routines of behavior repeated regularly and tend to occur subconsciously.
Biting nails is a common habit when someone is nervous or anxious.


Behavior is the manner in which a person acts or performs.
The child's behavior improves when he receives positive reinforcement.


A habit is a fixed way of doing things, often developed unconsciously.
Jogging every evening after work is his way of maintaining healthy habits.


Behavior encompasses the range of actions and mannerisms exhibited by individuals, groups, or systems.
Studying consumer behavior helps companies tailor their marketing strategies.


A recurrent, often unconscious pattern of behavior that is acquired through frequent repetition
Made a habit of going to bed early.


The manner in which one acts or behaves.


An established disposition of the mind or character
A pessimistic habit.


The actions or reactions of a person or animal in response to external or internal stimuli.


Customary manner or practice
An early riser by habit.


One of these actions or reactions
"a hormone ... known to directly control sex-specific reproductive and parenting behaviors in a wide variety of vertebrates" (Thomas Maugh II).


An addiction, especially to a narcotic drug.


The manner in which something functions or operates
The faulty behavior of a computer program.
The behavior of dying stars.


Characteristic appearance, form, or manner of growth, especially of a plant or crystal
"The habit of an apple tree is fine for the small garden" (Robert Dash).


Plural of behavior


A distinctive set of clothing or style of dressing, especially of a religious order.


A riding habit.


(Archaic) Physical constitution.


To clothe; dress.


To clothe in a habit, especially a nun's habit.


Plural of habit


What defines a habit?

A habit is a regularly repeated behavior that is often unconscious and automatic.

Can habits be easily changed?

Changing habits can be challenging, as they are deeply ingrained routines.

Are all behaviors habits?

No, not all behaviors are habits; habits are a subset of behaviors characterized by regular repetition.

Can behaviors be innate?

Yes, some behaviors can be innate, while others are learned or acquired.

How are habits formed?

Habits are formed through frequent repetition of a behavior over time.

What is an example of a habit?

An example of a habit is brushing teeth regularly every morning and night.

Can habits be positive?

Yes, habits can be positive, such as exercise routines or healthy eating.

What are behaviors?

Behaviors are actions or reactions of an individual, influenced by internal or external factors.

Do behaviors always require conscious thought?

Not all behaviors require conscious thought; some can be reflexive or automatic.

Is there a difference in modifying habits vs. behaviors?

Yes, modifying habits often requires more effort and time than changing general behaviors.

How do habits differ from behaviors?

Habits are specific types of behaviors that are repetitive and often performed unconsciously.

What role does environment play in behaviors?

Environment plays a significant role in shaping and triggering various behaviors.

Why are habits hard to break?

Habits are hard to break due to their automatic and unconscious nature.

Are habits always deliberate?

No, many habits form unintentionally over time through repeated actions.

Can behaviors be observed in animals?

Yes, behaviors can be observed in animals and are often studied in ethology.

How do habits affect daily life?

Habits significantly affect daily life, shaping routines and lifestyles.

What impact do behaviors have on personal relationships?

Behaviors can greatly impact personal relationships, influencing how individuals interact with each other.

What is the role of reinforcement in behaviors?

Reinforcement plays a crucial role in shaping and maintaining behaviors, especially in learning processes.

What is an example of a behavior?

An example of a behavior is smiling in response to a friendly gesture.

How can one change a behavior?

Changing a behavior often involves altering the environment or mindset that triggers it.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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