You definitely have heard the phrase “break the autopilot”, especially when it comes to “persuading” people to buy our own product vs a competitive one.
However, what we don’t realize most of the times, is that the “Autopilot” is not a consumer/shopper privilege, nor is it activated only when we enter a supermarket. It is an important mechanism, responsible for most of our operations.
Consider how many decisions your “Autopilot” has taken for you from the minute you woke up until the time you reached office, and you will surely appreciate its value. Did you really decide to wash your teeth, have a shower or wear underwear. Before even having your coffee, you made so many decisions. Or maybe not? I bet you did not even think about them. Do you know why? Because if every single stimulus that came to our senses, required our attention and explicit thinking, we would not be able to make it through the day.
Not to mention that with “logic” we would never manage to even drive our car. The way we drive is automatic, mainly controlled by System 1, except of the period during which we learn. During that time we use the slow System 2. Do you remember how difficult it was back then to just change a gear? I bet today, most of you drive, while listening to the radio, drinking coffee, even talking on the phone (using hands-free of course). Research shows that we need about 10,000 hours of practice on something to make the process completely automatic (System 1).
As on airplanes, the autopilot exists for a very important reason: to free up resources and allow us to focus our attention on other things. When the facts change, autopilot is deactivated and this is something we hate. This insight explains why we like to visit the same places for our entertainment, why we stay “loyal” to a supermarket and why we get angry when they place the products we buy in different shelves, why we keep on buying the same products, and finally, why it is so hard to change habits. So, do not try to “break” the autopilot, but take advantage of it! There is a way. In the next article I will explain why we hate change so much.