How are behaviors automatized?


Behavioral automation occurs when actions become so routine that they no longer require conscious effort. This process involves initially learning the behavior with considerable focus and attention, but over time, the repeated practice of the behavior allows it to be executed automatically, freeing up cognitive resources for other tasks.

David Eagleman explains that when learning a new skill, such as riding a bicycle, significant attention is necessary at first to coordinate balance and movement. As the behavior is practiced, it becomes automatized, allowing one to perform it without conscious thought. This shift enables individuals to devote mental resources to other activities. Eagleman notes that many daily behaviors, such as driving a car, speaking a language, or playing musical instruments, function more effectively when automatized; conscious interference can sometimes disrupt the flow of these actions 1.

Robert Cialdini expands on this concept by discussing "automatic influence," where our brains use shortcuts to navigate the overwhelming amount of information we encounter daily. These shortcuts guide our decisions based on recognized patterns, such as trusting expert opinions or relying on social proof like product reviews. These automatic responses are crucial for efficient decision-making but can also be exploited by others, pointing to the dual nature of automation as both necessary and potentially risky in complex environments 2.

Automatized Behaviors

David explains how most of our behaviors are automatized, freeing up our consciousness to think about other tasks and goals. He also discusses how some automatized behaviors function better than when we pay attention to them, citing examples like riding a bicycle or playing a musical instrument.

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655: David Eagleman | How Our Brains Construct Reality