This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Read more about how and why this site uses cookies by visiting our cookie policy page.

Information Commissioner's Office

You are here: Home / Hypnosis Articles / Automaticity


Image courtesy:

This article is about automaticity of learning. For ability of the cardiac muscles to depolarize spontaneously, see Cardiac muscle automaticity.

Automaticity is the ability to do things without occupying the mind with the low-level details required, allowing it to become an automatic response pattern or habit. It is usually the result of learning, repetition, and practice.

Examples of automaticity are common activities such as walking, speaking, bicycle-riding, assembly-line work, and driving a car (see Highway hypnosis).

After an activity is sufficiently practiced, it is possible to focus the mind on other activities or thoughts while undertaking an automaticized activity (for example, holding a conversation or planning a speech while driving a car).

Using automaticity to influence

In Influence, Robert Cialdini's book about social psychology and influence tactics, Cialdini explains how common automatic response patterns are in human behavior, and how easily they can be triggered, even with erroneous cues. He describes an experiment conducted by social psychologists Langer, Chanowitz, and Blank which illustrates how compliant people will be with a request if they hear words that sound like they are being given a reason, even if no actual reason is provided. The experimenters approached people standing in line to use a photocopier with one of three requests:

"Excuse me. I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I'm in a rush?"

"Excuse me. I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine?" or

"Excuse me. I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I have to make some copies?"

When given the request plus a reason, 94% of people asked complied with the request. When given the request without a reason, only 60% complied. But when given the request with what sounds like a reason but isn't, compliance jumped back to 93%. Langer, Chanowitz, and Blank are convinced that most human behavior falls into automatic response patterns.

However, when the request was made larger (20 pages instead of 5), subjects expected a sound reason before complying, as illustrated in the table.

Automaticity in reading

LaBerge and Samuels (1974) helped explain how reading fluency develops. Automaticity refers to knowing how to perform some arbitrary task at a competent level without requiring conscious effort - i.e. it is a form of unconscious competence.

Some educational software, like QuickSmart, incorporates the concept of automaticity. By measuring the consistency of processing speed and accuracy of students' responses, foundation skills can become automatic. As a result, students can devote cognitive effort to higher-order comprehension skills.

Moreover, if the student is automatic or is "a skilled reader, multiple tasks are being performed at the same time, such as decoding the words, comprehending the information, relating the information to prior knowledge of the subject matter, making inferences, and evaluating the information's usefulness to a report he or she is writing" (Samuels). It is essential to understand automaticity and how it is achieved to better a student performance. This is important for teachers because automaticity should be focused on in early years to ensure higher level reading skills in adolescence.

Disrupting automaticity

Automaticity can be disrupted by explicit attention when the devotion of conscious attention to the pattern alters the content or timing of that pattern itself. This phenomenon is especially pronounced in situations that feature high upside and/or downside risk and impose the associated psychological stress on one's conscious mind; one's performance in these "clutch" situations may either a) be unimpaired or even enhanced ("flow") or b) deteriorate ("choke").

This effect has been named the "centipede effect" after the fable of the "Centipede's dilemma", where a toad immobilises a centipede simply by asking it how it walks. The centipede's normally unconscious locomotion was interrupted by conscious reflection on it. The psychologist George Humphrey referred to this parable in his 1923 The story of man's mind: "No man skilled at a trade needs to put his constant attention on the routine work," he wrote. "If he does, the job is apt to be spoiled."

See also

Habit (psychology)


Neural adaptation

Implicit memory

Look up Automaticity in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

This page is reproduced under the terms of the Creative Commons Licence.

Visit Wikipedia

Further Resources

Please browse our fully updated library of professionally produced Hypnosis Downloads and Hypnosis Scripts for advanced self hypnosis audio mp3s and indirect hypnotherapy scripts relating to: automaticity, automaticity definition, automaticity examples, automatic thoughts and behaviors, cognitive psychology, social cognition, what is automaticity in psychology.

Please browse our Hypnosis Online Store for books, cds, downloads, dvds, ebooks, mp3s, scripts, and videos relating to: automaticity, automaticity definition, automaticity examples, automatic thoughts and behaviors, cognitive psychology, social cognition, what is automaticity in psychology.

Please visit for advanced self hypnosis audio mp3s, hypnosis courses, and hypnosis pdf relating to: automaticity, automaticity definition, automaticity examples, automatic thoughts and behaviors, cognitive psychology, social cognition, what is automaticity in psychology.

Please visit for more information relating to: automaticity, automaticity definition, automaticity examples, automatic thoughts and behaviors, cognitive psychology, social cognition, what is automaticity in psychology.

Hypnosis Downloads banner advertisement

Hypnosis Downloads:

10 Step Courses | Online Self Hypnosis Downloads: Addiction Help | Online Self Hypnosis Downloads: Alternative Cancer Treatments

Online Self Hypnosis Downloads: Anti Aging | Online Self Hypnosis Downloads: Bad Habits | Online Self Hypnosis Downloads

Children's Hypnosis | Online Self Hypnosis Downloads: Clinical Hypnotherapy | Online Self Hypnosis Downloads: Communication Skills

Online Self Hypnosis Downloads: Depression Self Help | Online Self Hypnosis Downloads: Difficult People | Online Self Hypnosis

Emotional Intelligence | Online Self Hypnosis Downloads: Enjoy Life | Online Self Hypnosis Downloads: Fears Phobias

Online Self Hypnosis Downloads: Fun Hypnosis | Online Self Hypnosis Downloads: Grief and Loss | Online Self Hypnosis Downloads

Growth Zone | Online Self Hypnosis Downloads:  Health Issues | Online Self Hypnosis Downloads: Healthy Eating | Online Hypnosis

Online Self Hypnosis Downloads: Hypnosis Download Packs | Online Self Hypnosis Downloads: Hypnosis Training | Online Hypnosis

Hypnotherapist Courses | Online Self Hypnosis Downloads: Interpersonal Skills | Online Self Hypnosis Downloads: Job Skills

Online Self Hypnosis Downloads: Learning Help | Online Self Hypnosis Downloads: Motivation Inspiration | Online Self Hypnosis

Pain Relief | Online Self Hypnosis Downloads: Parenting Skills | Online Self Hypnosis Downloads: Personal Development

Online Self Hypnosis Downloads: Personal Finance | Online Self Hypnosis Downloads: Personal Fitness | Online Self Hypnosis

Personal Productivity | Online Self Hypnosis Downloads: Personal Skills | Online Self Hypnosis Downloads: Pregnancy and Childbirth

Quit Smoking | Online Self Hypnosis Downloads: Relationship Help | Online Self Hypnosis Downloads: Relaxation Techniques

Online Self Hypnosis Downloads: Self Confidence | Online Self Hypnosis Downloads: Self Esteem | Online Self Hypnosis Downloads

Sexual Problems | Online Self Hypnosis Downloads: Sleep Problems | Online Self Hypnosis Downloads: Social Anxiety

Online Self Hypnosis Downloads: Sports Performance Online Self Hypnosis Downloads: Stress Management | Online Self Hypnosis

Thinking Skills | Online Self Hypnosis Downloads: Weight Loss
Hypnosis Downloads banner advertisement

Hypnosis Scripts:

Addiction Help | Online Hypnosis Scripts: Alternative Cancer Treatments | Online Hypnosis Scripts: Anti Aging | Online Hypnosis Scripts

Online Hypnosis Scripts: Bad Habits | Online Hypnosis Scripts: Clinical Hypnotherapy | Online Hypnosis Scripts: Communication Skills

Children's Hypnosis | Online Hypnosis Scripts: Depression Help | Online Hypnosis Scripts: Difficult People | Online Hypnosis Scripts

Online Hypnosis Scripts: Emotional Intelligence | Online Hypnosis Scripts: Enjoy Life | Online Hypnosis Scripts: Fears and Phobias

Fun Hypnosis | Online Hypnosis Scripts: Grief & Loss | Online Hypnosis Scripts: Growth Zone | Online Hypnosis Scripts: Health Issues

Online Hypnosis Scripts: Healthy Eating | Online Hypnosis Scripts: Hypno Scripts Packs | Online Hypnosis Scripts: Hypnosis Courses

Interpersonal Skills | Online Hypnosis: Job Skills | Online Hypnosis: Learning Help | Online Hypnosis: Motivation and Inspiration

Online Hypnosis Scripts: Pain Relief | Online Hypnosis Scripts: Parenting Skills | Online Hypnosis Scripts: Personal Development

Personal Finance | Online Hypnosis Scripts: Personal Fitness | Online Hypnosis Scripts: Personal Productivity | Online Hypnosis Scripts

Online Hypnosis Scripts: Personal Skills | Online Hypnosis Scripts: Pregnancy and Childbirth | Online Hypnosis Scripts: Quit Smoking

Relationship Help | Online Hypnosis Scripts: Relaxation Techniques | Online Hypnosis Scripts: Self Confidence | Online Hypnosis

Online Hypnosis Scripts: Self Esteem | Online Hypnosis Scripts: Sexual Problems | Online Hypnosis Scripts: Sleep Problems

Social Anxiety | Online Hypnosis Scripts: Sports Performance | Online Hypnosis Scripts: Stress Management | Online Hypnosis Scripts

Online Hypnosis Scripts: Thinking Skills | Online Hypnosis Scripts: Weight Loss
Hypnosis Downloads banner advertisement
This web site and its contents do not constitute medical, legal, or any other type of professional advice. Information on specific topics may not apply to everyone, or in all cases. If you think you may need medical attention, please consult a qualified health practitioner. Hypnosis Downloads - online hypnosis downloads and hypnosis scripts center, makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, currentness, suitability, or validity of information on this web site, and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information, or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display, or from its use. All information is provided on an as-is basis. Please visit Hypnosis Downloads - online hypnosis downloads and hypnosis scripts center, Disclaimer page.