Your brain works differently when it’s in autopilot mode.
Practice makes perfect. A constantly perform behavior becomes a habit. And a habit is an automatic response that is easy to execute. For instance, if a basketball player wants to make multiple three-point shots, he must practice until three-point shooting becomes easy and automatic.
However, not all automatic (autopilot) functioning is good. Automatic judgment is prone to fundamental attribution error – a tendency to make a faulty assessment of any given situation. This assessment bias is a product of being unable to attend to our own behavior. Why? Because not all the time our brain focuses on the task at hand.
Does our mind wander? A new study by Daniel Gilbert and Matthew Killingsworth suggests that our mind does wander. In fact, it happens roughly half of all the time. This means that almost every time we are not, or our mind focusing on what we do. Instead, it’s attention is in our thoughts. This is the time when our behavior becomes automatic.
We are almost always guilty of making automatic responses. Automatic behaviors happen when our brain runs on autopilot. As a result, it produces hilarious behaviors. Although it may not be harmful, most of the time, being detached from our self-consciousness causes us awkward moments.
Here’s what happens when your brain runs on autopilot
All of us have funny experience at some point. Those experiences happen when we are not aware of what our body is doing. The following are some of the things we do when we lost focus. These are the actual experiences of some people. Find out whether or not some of them happened to you too.
- “I hurried to work so I grabbed everything, my keys, wallet, etc. then I wonder why there’s a TV remote in my car.”
2. “I used to work at the airport while in college, and one day I went to get groceries and drove 30 mins to the airport instead.”
3. “Spent ages cooking dinner only to pick the plate up and empty it straight into the bin. I was so tired and hungry, I cried.”
4. “I was making breakfast one early morning and cracked my eggs straight into the garbage.”
5. “I opened a banana, discard white parts into the trash, pick the stringy bits off and notice I’m holding a peel and not a delicious banana… I go back to bed because clearly I’m not functioning and need to turn myself off and back on again.”
6. “There was a work meeting on the other end of the city, and my coworker wasn’t sure how to get there. I said “follow me” then proceeded to get on the freeway and drive home.”
7. “Opening a Mozzarella cheese stick for my daughter, threw away the actual cheese stick and gave her the wrapper.”
8. “I have poured my dog a bowl of cereal instead of giving her food multiple times.”
9. “Raising my hand to voice my opinion while in a skype conversation, not a school.”
10. “I grabbed my “lunch” on my way out the door for work in the morning. I kept wondering what that beeping noise was the whole drive there. Couldn’t figure it out. Got to work and grabbed my lunch, only to realize I had actually grabbed the baby monitor.”
11. “I woke up one morning in college, got dressed, left my room and got halfway out of the dorm before I realized I had no pants on.”
12. “Sprayed my hair down with what I thought was hairspray. It was Lysol.”
13. “Searching for my glasses 5 minutes. I was wearing them and it’s pretty hard to not notice that I wear my glasses considering how bad my vision gets without them.”
14. “Put toothpaste on my razor and almost went to town on my mouth.”
15. “Texting my wife while cashing out at the grocery store. She had just done laundry so I wanted to thank her. Rather than typing, I spoke aloud to the cashier saying ‘thanks, love you'”
16. “Throwing away trash while also talking on the phone. I slammed iPhone in the trash and hold empty coffee container up to the ear.”
If you have a similar experience, please share it here.
I’m a licensed psychometrician, author, and blogger. I’m currently working as a University instructor teaching psychology. I love writing and doing psychological research.