Feeling Lazy? Your Friends Could Be to Blame

Whether you consider yourself to be a hard-working, productive individual or perhaps more of a slow-moving procrastinator, your personality has a lot to do with how you choose to work (or not work) toward your future goals.A new study, however, suggests that some personality traits are contagious.

Among these contagious personality traits are prudence, impatience and laziness. Prudence is characterized by the preference to avoid risk while impatience is the tendency to prefer avoiding anything that extends delay. Lazinesscan be identified by preferring to avoid putting in the effortfor a potential reward.

It was previously thought that these three traits wereunique to each individual. But when decisions need to be madewhere factors like risk (cost/reward), effort and delay have to beconsidered, people tend to lean toward the attitudes of others.

For the study, 56 participants were asked to make decisions whileconsideringrisk, delay and effort. The decisions the participants had to make were based on the following scenarios:

  • Would you rather enter a lottery with a 90 percent chance of winning a small reward, or a lottery with a 10 percent chance of winning a large reward?
  • Would you ratherreceive a small reward three days from now, or a large reward several months from now?
  • Would you rather perform a physically demanding task that came with a big reward, or an easy task with a small reward?

The participants were first asked to make theirdecisions based on what they thought most peoplewould generally decide. After they made their decisions, the researchers exposed the participantsto the decisions that were made by artificialparticipants via computer algorithms.

Not knowing that the other participants’ decisions they were exposed to were artificial, the original participants were then asked to make a second series ofdecisions. During this second round, the researchers found that the decisions became more similar to the decisions that were made by the artificial participants and many of them even assumed that the other (artificial) participants’ attitudes were closely in line with their own despite not having any evidence.

While the participants were unaware of their own tendencies to be influenced by others, the researchers say that these biases might shed some light on the nature of social conformity. Our natural desire to feel included in a groupmay cause us to unconsciously imitate others.

Another possible explanation is that humans may unconsciously assume that others have access to information that tells them how theyshould behave in social situations. And so we look toward their behaviors tolearn how to behave in social situations ourselves.

These findings don’t meanthatwe should all stop interacting with certain types of people. However, we could benefit from spendingmore time around people that have positive influences on us.

So next time you find yourself making decisions that bring out the prudent, impatient or lazy side of you, ask yourself whether there’s somebody around you who may be influencing your behavior. One of the next steps for the researchers is to determine how people might change their behaviors after they’ve been made aware of them.

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57 comments

Jerome S
Jerome S5 months ago

thanks

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Jim V
Jim Ven5 months ago

thanks for sharing.

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natasha s
Past Member 7 months ago

Interesting. Still i can think of many more traits that would put me off than laziness in a friend.

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Carl R
Carl R7 months ago

Thanks!!!

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Amy C
Amy C7 months ago

Thanks

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Amy C
Amy C7 months ago

Noted

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Carl R
Carl R7 months ago

Thanks!!!

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Jaime J
Jaime J7 months ago

Thank you

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David C
David C7 months ago

don't have enough friends to blame my behaviors on

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Aldana W
Aldana W7 months ago

I can see how this can be so. I am bothered by impatient people and then I tend to feel impatient too.

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