In a behavioral context, a pattern refers to a recurrent way of thinking, feeling, or acting that an individual tends to engage in, often automatically or subconsciously.

These patterns can be positive or negative, adaptive or maladaptive. They are typically deeply ingrained and can be challenging to change.

Examples of patterns include:

  • Procrastination
  • People-pleasing
  • Self-criticism
  • Avoidance of difficult emotions
  • Overworking

Patterns often develop as coping mechanisms or learned responses to particular situations or stimuli. Over time, they become habitual and can persist even when they no longer serve the individual’s best interests.

Cognitive biases are an example of patterns becoming so ingrained that they affect our evolutionary history.