9 Potential Reasons Behind The Psychology of Laziness

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Is laziness a personality trait or is it a set of habits that one picks up due to other reasons? Does the aspect of laziness in one’s life arise from some deeper cause or is it just a behavioural tendency?

Laziness (also known as indolence) is a disinclination to an activity or exertion despite having the ability to act or to exert oneself.

Laziness implies different things to different people. The primary step in understanding one’s laziness is identifying its roots. For some, it may be a lack of interest in things, while for others it may be due to tiredness, feeling low, or a sense of being disconnected. It can also be at times a symptom of an underlying condition that needs medical attention. Laziness is undoubtedly a behaviour with psychological determinants.

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The psychology of laziness

Laziness is considered to be largely one’s own choice, but this choice is guided by a few leading factors. In most cases, it is due to the uncertain efforts on the long-term goals that do not provide immediate gratification. For a person to embark on a project, needs to value the return on his labour more than his loss of comfort. The problem is that people with low self-esteem are disinclined to trust in a return that is both distant and uncertain and thereby tend to be lazy.

Nando Pelusi, an evolutionary psychologist and rational-emotive therapist, explains that as a species, we tend to try and conserve energy. When resources were scarce or uncertain, it was important to conserve energy. As the early humans didn’t know when they might need it. So, perhaps laziness takes over when there is some kind of uncertainty in life. It is the instinctual way of taking a moment for introspection to save energy.

Laziness may also reflect a lack of self-esteem , decreased level of motivation, a lack of positive recognition by others, a lack of discipline stemming from low self-confidence, or a lack of interest in the activity or belief in its efficacy.

Other factors causing laziness are fear and hopelessness. Few people fear success and do not have sufficient self-esteem to feel comfortable, and laziness is one way in which they can sabotage themself. Conversely, some people fear failure, and laziness is preferable to failure because it is at one remove. “It’s not that I failed,” they tell themselves, “it is that I never tried.”

Difference between Procrastination and Laziness

We tend to mix up terms like laziness, procrastination, idleness, etc. Though laziness and procrastination have something in common: low motivation, they do not imply the same thing.

Procrastination is an active process where one chooses to do something else instead of an important task. It is the poor or ineffective planning of a task that results in a higher overall cost to the procrastinator. In contrast, laziness suggests apathy, inactivity, and an unwillingness to act.

Procrastination usually involves ignoring an unpleasant, but likely more important task, in favour of one that is more enjoyable or easier. A lazy person, on the other hand, doesn’t always have the strength to achieve their goals. Laziness in a person causes their motivation to avoid the effort to trump their motivation to do the right, best, or expected thing.

Causes of Laziness

Laziness is not always a behavioural tendency in individuals. At times it has significant causes behind it. It may stem from a fear of inefficiency or at times maybe even be a symptom of some chronic illness. To find the right way to treat this aspect, it is necessary to identify its cause in a person. Here is a list of a few such major causes-

1. Lack of good lifestyle choices

Dehydration, lack of sleep, poor diet with insufficient vitamins, too much alcohol consumption and haphazard work and sleep schedules are a few major hitches in a healthy lifestyle that make a person unproductive. Consistent repetition of one or more of these practices makes the body and mind worn out. As a result, one feels drained and exhausted. These lead to enhanced laziness.

2. Chronic fatigue

Overworking leads to laziness. Being too tired makes one devoid of any energy to deal with certain tasks. Stress, on the other hand, drains the life out of us and renders us incapable to work on our tasks. We aren’t even able to spend quality time with our family, which is very important for us to be happy


Even mental activities need lots of energy and a logical mind. Feeling stressed dulls our body and stops us from functioning properly. Therefore, over-exhaustion by doing unimportant things like partying, playing video games, and roaming around, must be avoided.

3. Depression and Medical Conditions

Medical conditions that can cause tiredness are:

  • Anaemia
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Chronic Fatigue
  • Diabetes
  • Sleep Apnoea
  • Fibromyalgia

Thyroid disorders and vitamin deficiencies cause weakness and lower the energy in a person, thereby making him/her lazy.

Laziness, on the other hand, is a recurring symptom in most depression patients. Depression causes one to sit alone and remain idle. It thus becomes important to address this issue immediately if they show signs of other psychological issues like desperation, negativity, and fatalistic thoughts.

4. Lack of motivation

Motivation and inspiration are necessary to fuel one’s actions as they provide the cause to work. One is motivated when they like the work they do. People uncomfortable with their jobs, fail to ascribe a purpose to their work. In the absence of these factors, one lacks the willingness to complete his tasks as laziness overtakes him/her.

5. All or nothing mindset

Procrastination is the tendency to postpone an important task to do an unimportant or fun task. Continuous postponing of the work causes it to pile up to an extent that it begins to cause stress and the feeling of impossibility in the person. Thus, it is an immense problem as it makes things harder to do, which makes a person lazy due to the fear of its incompletion.

6. Inability to set self-goals

This might happen when a person has either too much to do or nothing at all. Both these situations create confusion as a result of which, one chooses to remain inactive. Purpose gives meaning to life. The lack of a goal naturally makes one lazy due to their inability to realize the needs of the real world. It is thereby essential to plan an effective schedule to remain motivated and avoid laziness.

7. Fear of taking responsibility

The lack of self-worth makes a person fearful to take accountability. They become wary of the consequences of messing up the tasks assigned to them, thus preferring to not perform them at all. It makes them timid and lazy due to the fear of failure.

8. Distractions

This is another major cause of lazy behaviour. When the mind is unable to focus singularly on the work being done and keeps letting in thoughts about the other irrelevant ideas, it leads to distraction. More the distractions, the lesser is the focus and this increases laziness. Common mediums of distraction in today’s times are- social media, talkative friends, a lot of hangouts and thinking too much about an event/activity. This can be controlled by a careful exercise of routing activities and self-control.

9. Indecisiveness

Failure to make the right decision at the right time makes one lazy. This happens when one is too much dependent on the other person to guide and direct them. Making proper plans to execute work as per one’s own choice is important as it makes them more responsible. Thus, it is important to be independent and make decisions wisely to avoid postponement and a lazy attitude.

Laziness is a soft and comfortable blanket that one uses to escape from the reality. It tends to lower one’s performance and cause inefficiency. Therefore, knowing its real causes are necessary to prevent this unwanted habit and to get better and enhanced positive outcomes.

“Laziness may appear attractive but work gives satisfaction.”

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