96% of Brits are on ‘autopilot mode’

From answering emails to deciding which route to take to work - a new study finds we are sleep-walking into our choices

Autopilot Britain

The average adult makes around 35,000 decisions each day; many need to be second nature and on ‘autopilot’, as we cannot carefully consider everything that we do. Humans have developed an unconscious decision-making system – the cognitive unconscious – to keep our brains from overloading and automatically manage routine tasks.

A new study by M&S looks into ‘autopilot mode’ and how it can distract us from every day, small decisions that affect how we live and work.

The survey was conducted online with over 3,000 consumers to understand whether we are in control of our lives and the decisions we are making. The project carried out in-depth interviews with two cultural experts on choice-making and happiness.

Some of the key findings:

47% Brits say ‘yes’ four times a day when they would rather say ‘no’ and almost half of these admit this is because they don’t want to let people down.

61% of Brits say they stick with the safe/known patterns and decisions.

22% feel they do not do things thoroughly/with consideration when on autopilot mode.

21% said they miss out on focussing fully on things.

Many of the technology platforms and products that surround us are increasingly designed to lock us into spending more time on them, employing ways to hold our attention by making it easy for us to keep on watching and scrolling.

Tristan Harris, an ex-employee at Google and the man behind Time Well Spent, 6 an organisation whose mission is to help people break their unconscious habits and take control of their relationship with technology, claims that digital technology is making it harder for people to make free choices. “We’ve unleashed this black box which is always developing new ways to persuade us to do things, by moving us from one trance to the next,” he says.

The study gives ways in which we can become aware of our own autopilot behaviors and how we change our behaviour in order to reconnect with what really matters.

Read the full study here.