The Science of Laziness

Here’s the good news; you may be able to blame your complete lack of urge to do anything on your parents. The bad news? You can change it if you want to.


First things first, why can you pin the blame on your parents and ancestors? Well, it’s quite simple actually! Dopamine! For those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s a neurotransmitter that is created and released by the brain in both humans and animals. The brain has several distinct dopamine systems, which play major roles in attention, sleep, mood, memory, and most importantly for this article, reward-motivated behaviour, or pleasure. In the human brain, dopamine is released as a natural reward to activities such as food, exercise and sex. All three are equally addictive.


However, some people have a mutation in the normal gene that regulates activity levels. It is responsible for a type of dopamine receptor; without it, you will prefer to not be active.  But what’s this got to do with our parents?



A study was carried on mice to see if inheritance and evolution have anything to do with this gene. The mice were sorted into two groups- those who run more on their wheel, and those who run less. After 10 generations, the descendants of the more active mice ran 75% more the than the descendants of those who ran less, and the sixteenth generation of the more active mice ran an average of 7 miles a day, opposed to the mere 4 miles of the “lazier” mice.  The brains of the more active mice had a larger dopamine systems and therefore more motivation, which also means more rewards. Those mice were literally addicted to running. Not letting them run would be like taking Internet away from teenagers.


Basically, even the desire to want to do activity isn’t entirely up to you, like I said before- you can change it. It will be hard, but it can be done. The way someone motivates them-self changes from person to person, but here’s the basic explanation.


Some studies suggest willpower is an exhaustible resource that can run out entirely too easily. This process is called Ego Depletion. When this happens, trying to convince yourself to start isn’t enough. Instead, try methods like just starting! Once you have started, your body will constantly pester you until you finish the task. This is called the Zeigarnik Effect. STOP MULTI-TASKING. This may make absolutely no sense as the brain by doing more than one thing should have more output .This is wrong. By focusing on one thing, studies show you do that thing faster AND you are more productive. This may all sound very obvious but it works! It is science after all!