The Status Quo Bias

Why we can't let go and resist change.

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TL;DR

We resist change by default.

As humans, we tend towards liking things as they are because we perceive the current state of affairs and current situations as the way they ought to be. Psychologically, we tend towards interpreting changes as losses.

This effect underlies the power of default settings, why we often have a hard time letting go, or why we don't want to give up things we have — even if they don't serve us.

Likewise, the status quo bias explains why we often have problems to think about and trigger changes in social norms, why we irrationally stick to suboptimal solutions in business, political and social contexts, and why we usually resist scientific research on the fringes of ethics.


To Remember

"Question the status quo at all times, especially when things are going well."

— Gary Kasparov

“In spite of warnings, nothing much happens until the status quo becomes more painful than change.”

— Laurence J. Peter

“The status quo is persistent and resistant. It exists because everyone wants it to. Everyone believes that what they've got is probably better than the risk and fear that come with change.”

— Seth Godin

"Every threat to the status quo is an opportunity in disguise."

— Jay Samit


Explore

➞ To get a deep understanding of the status quo bias and what we know about it, go through this Wikipedia article.

➞ For a full picture of how the status quo bias translates into everyday life, read up on loss aversion, the endowment effect, and system justification.

➞ This video by Dan Ariely is a great introduction to how loss aversion and the endowment effect work.


Resources

For a structured list of fascinating booksblogspodcasts, and Youtube channels related to cognitive psychology and belief formation, visit mindvault.co/vault/the-status-quo-bias.


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