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Why Do People Stick To Their Bad Habits?

Why do people ignore public warnings and advertisements on the dangers of bad habits like smoking, drinking alcohol, overeating and stressing out //though they know that they aren't good for health? Why persist in bad habits have become the convention of many people across the Globe?

Because, says a University of Alberta researcher, we aren't getting at the underlying reasons of why we persist in bad habits or risky behaviors.

In two of the recent case studies that asked the people to rate the danger of various types of risks including lifestyle habits, it was clear that they understood what types of behavior are the riskiest, but that knowledge wasn't enough to motivate them to change their ways, said Dr. Cindy Jardine, an assistant professor of rural sociology at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada. 'The results showed that in fact, people have a very realistic understanding of the various risks in their lives. We as risk communicators--scientists, academics, and government agencies have to get beyond the thought of 'If they only understood the facts, they'd change.' They do understand the facts, but we need to look at other factors we haven't been looking at before.'

Jardine presented her findings recently at the RiskCom 2006 Conference in Sweden.

In the first case study conducted by Jardine, 1,200 people in Alberta were surveyed in both 1994 and 2005. Lifestyle habits like cigarette smoking, stress and sun-tanning were ranked as the top three risks, being considered more dangerous to the Alberta public than technology or pollution hazards such as chemical contamination, ozone depletion and sour gas wells. Cigarette smoking was ranked as 'very dangerous' by 53 per cent of those surveyed in 1994 and by 60 per cent of the respondents surveyed in 2005. Stress was ranked as 'very dangerous' by 54 per cent of the people in 1994 and by 65 per cent in 2005. In contrast, sour gas wells were ranked as 'very dangerous'
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