Get Regular Updates!
|Are lazy people more efficient and innovative than we think?



Getty Images

Are lazy people more efficient and innovative than we think?

Are lazy people more efficient and innovative than we think?

Turns out, laziness might be the mother of invention.

Are lazy people more efficient and innovative than we think?

Are you feeling lazier lately? You can’t go to the gym. You’re probably stuck at home. You might be sitting on your couch in your pyjamas writing an article about laziness.

And you could be feeling a bit guilty about it.

But what if a bit of laziness was a positive thing? What if laziness was a sign of intelligence or a driver of innovation?

Efficiency through laziness

You may have noticed that lazy people are good at figuring out the easiest and quickest way of doing something. In other words, lazy people are efficient and even innovative.

In 1947, American automobile executive Clarence Bleicher gave Congress a hot tip about laziness.

“When I have a tough job in the plant and can’t find an easy way to do it, I have a lazy man put on it. He’ll find an easy way to do it in 10 days. Then we adopt that method.”

The science of laziness

So what does the science say about laziness?

Associate Professor Todd McElroy from Greensboro College in the United States studies laziness through the lens of decision science and psychology.

In 2016 he led a study that investigated the relationship between physical activity and “need for cognition” (aka laziness).

It found that people with a higher need for cognition used their energy to problem solve mentally, rather than physical activity.

“What the data is showing us is that humans may possess a type of compensatory model,” Todd says.

“Different people may have relatively similar energy levels, but they actually spend this energy in fundamentally different ways.

“Some people may expend relatively more energy on physical activity, whereas other people may spend relatively more energy on intellectual energy.”

In other words, what we perceive as laziness may be people using their energy to think and innovate.

Todd says this makes sense given the energy our brains need.

“Don’t forget that the brain represents only about 2% of total body weight, yet it utilises 20 to 30% of the body’s total energy,” he says.

You snooze, you … win?

Preliminary findings from Todd’s current research project could debunk another laziness myth.

“When people are well rested, they actually have more overall physical activity than when they are sleep-deprived,” he says.

“This is a bit surprising, because when you think about it, sleep-deprived people have several more hours of awake time.

“However, the ‘good night’s rest’ seems to offset the additional wake time and yields greater overall physical activity.”

So if you’re feeling bad about having an afternoon nap, don’t be. It could help you become more efficient and innovative.

Particle Puns


Creative Commons Logo

Republishing our content

We want our stories to be shared and seen by as many people as possible.

Therefore, unless it says otherwise, copyright on the stories on Particle belongs to Scitech and they are published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

This allows you to republish our articles online or in print for free. You just need to credit us and link to us, and you can’t edit our material or sell it separately.

Using the ‘republish’ button on our website is the easiest way to meet our guidelines.


You cannot edit the article.

When republishing, you have to credit our authors, ideally in the byline. You have to credit Particle with a link back to the original publication on Particle.

If you’re republishing online, you must use our pageview counter, link to us and include links from our story. Our page view counter is a small pixel-ping (invisible to the eye) that allows us to know when our content is republished. It’s a condition of our guidelines that you include our counter. If you use the ‘republish’ then you’ll capture our page counter.

If you’re republishing in print, please email us to let us so we know about it (we get very proud to see our work republished) and you must include the Particle logo next to the credits. Download logo here.

If you wish to republish all our stories, please contact us directly to discuss this opportunity.


Most of the images used on Particle are copyright of the photographer who made them.

It is your responsibility to confirm that you’re licensed to republish images in our articles.


All Particle videos can be accessed through YouTube under the Standard YouTube Licence.

The Standard YouTube licence

  1. This licence is ‘All Rights Reserved’, granting provisions for YouTube to display the content, and YouTube’s visitors to stream the content. This means that the content may be streamed from YouTube but specifically forbids downloading, adaptation, and redistribution, except where otherwise licensed. When uploading your content to YouTube it will automatically use the Standard YouTube licence. You can check this by clicking on Advanced Settings and looking at the dropdown box ‘License and rights ownership’.
  2. When a user is uploading a video he has license options that he can choose from. The first option is “standard YouTube License” which means that you grant the broadcasting rights to YouTube. This essentially means that your video can only be accessed from YouTube for watching purpose and cannot be reproduced or distributed in any other form without your consent.


For more information about using our content, email us:

Copy this HTML into your CMS
Press Ctrl+C to copy

We've got chemistry. Want something physical?