Identity Is a Powerful Motivator for Behaviors

Behavioral change, such as forming a new habit, can be motivated by how it reflects your identity (both positively and negatively)–we do things that provide evidence for who we are.

For example, identifying with being a healthy person means the actions you take will be more likely to reflect that. It’s not that you like to workout it’s that you are a fit person and that’s what fit people do.

See also:

  • Digital Status Symbols Arise from Homogeneity

    When everyone gets the same thing, the smallest differences become status symbols.

  • There Are No More Pious Than the Recently Converted

    People who recently uncover an idea tend to be the most zealous in promoting and defending it because it becomes part of their identity and identity is a powerful motivation for behaviors.

  • Smart People Don’t Like Taking Chances

    Smart people don’t like taking chances because they are afraid of being wrong.

  • Search Engines Grind Increasingly Fine

    The abundance of stuff—both online and offline—means that every conceivable niche is available to everyone. Search engines are niche machines that are increasingly sophisticated at directing attention to these fine grained interests.

  • Reactionary Politics Is a Dead End

    Political views based on a reaction to something else (e.g. wearing masks, anti-science, a decision) is a dead end because it says nothing about what you want from this world. The ideology is entirely dependent on the other thing to react to. In the absence of the reaction there is no substance.

  • Thinking Better Thoughts

    I remember when I first started working at Stripe I felt like the dumbest person in the room. I was amazed at how smart everyone seemed and the writing…gosh, the writing! If I wanted to be like that too, something needed to change.

  • Signaling as a Service

    Signaling is often the underlying motivation for our behaviors. We make visible our values to both the in-group and out-groups in ways such as buying a luxury automobile (to signal wealth) or posting a flattering image of ourselves on vacation. Products and services can be viewed as selling signaling as the underlying value to users. For example Fortnite, which is free to play, sells costumes and emotes which have no affect the ability to win the game and are purely sold as a form of signaling.

  • Learning Styles Don’t Exist

    The idea that everyone has their own learning style and learning is most effective when teachers use your style is not based on any scientific evidence.

  • § What I Learned 2020