L for Lazy — Understanding People A to Z

Have you ever tried deleting your Amazon account? You can’t, or rather, since you’re lazy, you’ll give up. Amazon knows that and leverages the brain’s laziness to not let you delete your account. Instead, it sets you on a long journey, fully knowing you’ll eventually give up.

Born out of the same consumer psychology is Alexa or Google Home — the little pod assistant that will do your chores thus, taking a whole lot of your cognitive load upon her, and you’re hooked!

Alexa thrives on people like my brother who is so lazy, his entire room is voice controlled — lights, A/C, geyzer, music. It doesn’t take a kidney to set up, just Alexa (Rs. 2249), smart switch adapters & bulbs (Rs. 2299), a smart home universal remote (Rs. 1490) and your voice.

Alexa reminds him about every little task, wakes him up, makes calls for him, and gives him the latest news. And just like that she’s a part of his conversations and life, just because he’s (we’re) lazy and she knows it!

Why are we lazy?

The popular view on decision making is that we use information to make decisions. But this view does not factor in the fact that energy is the key currency that the cognitive system seeks to preserve.

The human brain is roughly 3% of our body weight and yet it uses 20–25% of our daily energy supply. This energy needs to be in continuous supply to keep the brain running regardless of what it is doing.

So, our cognitive system seeks to preserve energy by making decisions quickly. Simply put, time spent thinking about a choice is highly correlated with the amount of energy consumed by the brain.

There’s a famous example from Iyengar and Lepper (2000), who found that the proportion of consumers making a purchase from a stall selling jams increased from 3% to 30% when the number of flavours was culled from 24 to 6.

Hence, our laziness makes us love Alexa — the lady saviour of our brain’s cognitive energy. And laziness ensures we never delete our Amazon account.

So, if we want to influence other people’s behaviour, we must make desirable behaviours easy and undesirable behaviours hard.

Got curious before signing out — How many of you have quit cigarettes during the pandemic due to laziness? Considering, most homes are a smoke free zone, every time you need to smoke you must get out of the house, walk to a pan store, buy a cigarette each time, dole out change… It’s tedious! So, have you?



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