Majority of Britons living in autopilot mode, Marks & Spencer study warns

Majority of Britons living in autopilot mode, Marks & Spencer study warns

Image: STUDIO GRAND OUEST / Shutterstock

Startling stats from Marks and Spencer has revealed that 96 per cent of people in the UK are living life on autopilot.

The average person in Britain makes 15 decisions a day, including what to wear in the morning and what to eat for dinner, without truly thinking about it.

In addition to this, the average person says ‘yes’ four times a day when they wish we hadn’t, such as agreeing to work late, or to attend a social event they don’t want to, because they don’t want to let people down (47 per cent) or they believe it’s easier to say yes than no (37 per cent).

The findings come from a study of 3,000 individuals conducted for Marks & Spencer as part of its #Spenditwell campaign.

The study has suggested that the accessibility of technology and demands on their time means Britons are not fully cognisant of some decisions they make on routine tasks, and 96 per cent are trapped in this mode.

This culture is resulting in an epidemic of non-engagement with the world and sub-conscious decision-making, the researchers warn.

Dr Mark Williamson, director of Action for Happiness and contributor to the study said: “Autopilot is a growing problem. It has gone from being an evolutionary protection mechanism that stopped our brains overloading, to our default mode of operating whereby we sleep-walk into our choices. 

Williamson said this mode of operating has seeped into more and more areas of individuals’ lives and relationships, making people feel out of control, as 76 per cent of respondents noted that they don’t feel they are using their time efficiently.

While 44 per cent said they had forgotten birthdays, to pay an important bill and even to pick their children up from school, 25 per cent of people said it extended to their workplace, and 39 per cent said their autopilot is still switched on while relaxing at home.

“We are always on,” Williamson said. “If you pause, you risk letting yourself or others down. When you stand still, it’s perceived that you’re going backwards.

“As we look around us, it seems like other people are living successful, perfect lives.  Autopilot makes it harder for us to make instinctively good choices so we feel trapped and that we’re living someone else’s life.”

Commenting on the study Steve Rowe, chief executive of Marks & Spencer, said: “Our in-depth customer study has shown that living life on autopilot is a direct consequence of us being so hectic and means that we don’t always get the most out of life.  

“However, for most people one small change a day can make a huge difference. That’s why we are calling on the nation to stop saying yes to things that don’t matter and start making more conscious decisions. 

“Starting on Make it Matter Day on 1 June, we want our customers to share with us just how they are making decisions that count.”


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