Behavioral scientists have been exploring if — and when — a psychological reset can lead to lasting change. We survey evidence from the London Underground, Major League Baseball, and New Year’s resolutions; we look at accidental fresh starts, forced fresh starts, and fresh starts that backfire. And we wonder: will the pandemic’s end provide the biggest fresh start ever?
As a behavior-change specialist, Milkman sees January 1st as something of a high holy day. Every year, roughly half of all Americans make a New Year’s resolution to break some habit, fix some flaw, pick up some new activity.