Don’t Let the Status Quo Stop You

Don’t Let the Status Quo Stop You

  17 Dec 2023

Some of us really like the status quo.

Even when we have a better alternative, many of us are content to keep on doing what we’re doing.

I think about this every time my wife and I swap cars.

Depending on who is running what errands that day, we’ll switch between our big car and our little car.

Every time we change, my wife has this habit.

It’s a very good habit, but it’s the exact opposite of what I do

Before she backs out of the garage, she adjusts everything.

The seat slides closer and the mirrors get moved.

She even fiddles with the height of the seatbelt.

Only then does she head down the road.

I, on the other hand, just get into the car and slide back the seat (because I wouldn’t fit otherwise).

But everything else I leave alone.

Things are great — until I try to look in any of the mirrors.

Because the mirrors are still where my wife left them, I can only see out of them if I slouch down and move back and forth.

I’ve been known to do this for an entire day.

But sometimes, I’ve been in this ridiculous position sitting at a stop light, and I’ve thought to my slouched-down self, “Just reach up and adjust the mirror.”

It takes less than 10 seconds, and my whole day gets a lot more comfortable.

So why don’t I skip the slouching and adjust my mirrors every time we swap cars?

I don’t think about it.

You could call me lazy, but I call it status quo bias

I didn’t just make that up. Researchers have known about this quirk for a while.

Even in the face of what would clearly be a better alternative, humans have a tendency to leave things the same.

The “why” behind this bias fascinates me.

In 1988, William Samuelson and Richard Zeckhauser gave a name to our habit of disproportionately sticking with the status quo.

The bias was so obvious that researchers could see it in a simple, multiple-choice questionnaire that study participants completed.

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