Psychology of laziness

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Psychology of laziness

The author is the head of the financial planning team of the JoongAng Ilbo.

The feeling of cumbersomeness is powerful. It can make everything powerless. Your pledge to work out and lose weight, your greed to invest in stocks and become rich, your ambition to be a better professional through self-development all fall apart in front of laziness.

Why? There has been a lot of research. In social psychology, it is explained as cognitive miserliness. A human being tries to save the energy that the brain uses when processing information. In other words, it is human instinct not to engage in complex and deep thinking. Status quo bias in behavioral economics leads to laziness. A person tends to not change their current behavior unless there is a special interest at hand.

Innovation often emerges based on the instinct of laziness. Kakao Bank eliminated electronic certificates in mobile banking and Samsung Pay replaced magnetic credit card payments with tapping a smartphone. There had been mobile banking and simple payment services, but they were not popular. Kakao Bank and Samsung Pay achieved innovation by removing cumbersome obstacles. 


Growth of the subscription economy owes its success to laziness. Once consumers sign up, they don’t change their decision easily because they are lazy. Once a content application secures a member by offering a one-month free membership, it often leads to long-term subscriptions for increased revenue.

It is not a major loss if you cannot use a new service or waste a subscription fee due to laziness. But it is a serious loss if you give up the right to get your own money back. It frequently happens when you file a medical insurance claim.

There are many cases of not filing a claim to the insurance company out of laziness. Insurance holders often give up when the medical cost is trivial. The process of getting a copy from the hospital and sending it to the insurance is cumbersome.

The loss to consumers cannot be calculated, but it is estimated to be 100 billion won ($89 million) annually. There are ample technical methods to simplify insurance claims through mobile application without using paper copies. But there’s the law. Will the act to simplify the insurance claim filing be passed this time after failing to get past the National Assembly for eight years?

This is what a lazy insurance holder pays attention to after not filing a claim for the flu treatment last year.

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