This is session number 12 of Influence Psychology and Persuasion. This show is all about Lazy Thinking.

Lazy thinking is responsible for so many critical thinking errors. Lazy thinking occurs because we need to limit our inputs and piece together our responses and choices. We do this based on what we have done before and what has served us up to that point. Lazy thinking allows us to function normally, easily but it is defining our choices, decisions and lives as a whole. Action must be taken.

The psychological principle of lazy thinking, like most other principles, certainly serves a purpose. Every day our life is full of lessons. Each of these lessons are stored and allow us to shortcut critical thinking by using these lessons at a later date. Sometimes we even package these lessons to allow us to come up with a seemingly rapid accurate gut feel. Here is where the problem lies.

What’s the Issue?

Marketeers, sales professionals and even manipulators fully understand that we will go through most of our day on autopilot, lazily thinking and making decisions as we have done in the past.

This topic jumped out at me today whilst I was on the school run with the kids. I heard some mums talking about diet and foods. One of them sounded extremely pleased that they purchased a microwaveable dinner that was gluten-free. The other one also responded in amazement, and clearly wanted to try some of this gluten-free microwaveable dinner. As it was gluten-free, it’s obviously healthy isn’t it?

Now, this isn’t a show about diet, but the facts are this. Gluten is fine for most people, but for those who do suffer, the suffering can be quite intense. So a gluten-free option is certainly, an option and may have benefits for some. However, we’ve come to think that foods that are fat-free, gluten-free, sugarfree are the best options in all cases to choose regardless of our own dietary needs. This is lazy thinking in action.

Lazy Thinkers are quick to find proof

The lazy thinker would assume that if it didn’t have one of the above ingredients in, therefore it must be the healthier choice. The critical, active thinker may be wondering if these items have been taken out, what specifically has gone back in? Known neurotoxic sweeteners sometimes replace sugar, simply to have the product labelled as sugar-free!

Artificial thickeners are put in foods to replace fats. In most cases, fats that are beneficial to us are being replaced with thickeners that have no nutritional benefit whatsoever. But marketers get away with labelling something as fat-free, or even low-fat and make us want this more. Did you know chips are meat-free!!! It doesn’t tell you anything.

Lazy brain and lazy thinking affect us in so many ways. And it’s time to step in and make a cognitive assessment of your brains thinking. Let me give you some more examples.

Lazy thinkers tend to be more selfish. They will use certain languages and make specific judgements based on their social situations and things that seem to fit at that time. Think about it for a minute, how many times have you thought about something after an event, and realised that your initial decision was a mistake. “ thinking about it now I can……….”

When a person is admired or believed to be right on a particular subject. People also then believe more of what that person says, it seems that once a person has passed a validation test in some way or another. Then their other suggestions, comments and stories seem to be more plausible and believable. Manipulators can use this to set the scene. They can create a story or situation that they can prove to be true, and then follow it up with an illusion that you will simply adopt more easily. See more of this on the Halo Effect and Commitment and Consistency pages.

Get Critical Thinking Again

Now you know that lazy thinking occurs. Simply begin to spend more time becoming focused on an interaction. Still, listen to what’s going on, but always have that critical side of you wondering “what if”, or how do we know? Be careful with this though, it’s a great way to lose rapport and friends! Critical thinking really needs to be used when the outcome or the observation directly affects you, your life, your friends, your money, your health and so on. Don’t become that critical person who disbelieves everything a person says. Perhaps have a read of Agree Even When You Don’t for more on this.

Anything to do with avoiding being lazy normally involves a level of willpower. Did you realise, willpower is just like a muscle? Not only are you better at willpower when you are well rested, but if you use up your willpower throughout the day, then you’re far more susceptible to suggestions later on in the day. Your critical thinking muscle has been used throughout the day, so lazy thinking kicks in and suggests you get a bottle of red wine as you’ve had a busy week. Just think about times that you need to make critical decisions and ensure that your well rested, your days well planned so that you don’t use up your critical thinking on mundane tasks, and enter with an air of curiosity.

Just think about times that you need to make critical decisions and ensure that you’re well rested. That your days are well planned so that you don’t use up your critical thinking on mundane tasks and enter with an air of curiosity.