Share on Google Plus Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn Share on PInterest Share on Fark! Share on Reddit Share on StumbleUpon Tell A Friend 2 (2 Shares)  
Printer Friendly Page Save As Favorite View Favorites View Stats   1 comment

Exclusive to OpEdNews:
OpEdNews Op Eds

Psychology of Change

By (about the author)     Permalink       (Page 1 of 1 pages)
Related Topic(s): ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; , Add Tags Add to My Group(s)

View Ratings | Rate It

opednews.com

- Advertisement -

Barack Obama won largely because he was the candidate the electorate felt embodied change. But in 2004, George Bush convinced people not to change, despite a war that was growing increasingly unpopular. In fact, it was Republican strategy in 2004 to paint John Kerry as a flip-flopper, whose positions continually changed. Psychology suggests that most people prefer not to change horses in midstream (or at any other time for that matter) and that only under extraordinary circumstances will people embrace change. We are, generally, change averse.  

In a risk assessment exercise that I used to use in my psychology classes, my students frequently refused to switch positions even after the class had demonstrated conclusively through a series of trials that the new position was twice as favorable as the original position the students' had staked out. One student's explanation for refusing to switch was that he "was feeling it."- That thinking error is related to belief perseverance, a phenomenon in which we commit to an initial position and stubbornly hold onto our belief despite evidence that suggests the belief is incorrect.

Another related psychological principle is commitment. Once we make a choice, according to Robert Cialdini, we experience personal pressure to behave consistently with that prior commitment. In fact, we become more confident in our choices once we make them.

In a classic study, two Canadian psychologists found that people at a racetrack become more confident of a horse's chance of winning immediately after placing a bet on that horse.

A person's choice to make a decision based upon feelings demonstrates a common thinking error that can be related to poor decision-making and may also cause us to resist change. Psychologist David Levy points out in his book, "Tools of Critical Thinking,"- that just because we feel something, doesn't make it true--feelings and truth are conceptually independent. However, research has shown that interviewers form impressions of job applicants in a few seconds or less and are confident about their judgments. Prolonged interview exposure increases the interviewers' confidence in their initial judgments, but subsequent research suggests that interviewers commonly overestimate their ability to predict who will become good employees.

Our initial choices may cause us to look for evidence confirming what we already believe and ignore evidence to the contrary. That confirmation bias often leads us to find what we are looking for and only that.

Also conceptually related to change aversion is the notion of sunk cost. Rational actors understand that once someone has spent money on something, that money cannot be recovered and they therefore act accordingly. We should make decisions based on future prospects, not upon what something has already cost us. But often we pour money into a clunker of a car, for example, because we've already "invested"- so much in the car. In the same way, we may doggedly follow a wrong path because, after all, we've come this far.

It is not hard to understand that a war that has involved the U.S. longer than World War II and a financial crisis that many suggest has been the worst in eighty years propelled both parties' candidates to call for change.  We should not underestimate, though, the strong aversion most of us naturally feel towards change which also suggests that we understand the 2008 election as a confluence of extraordinary factors.

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

 

Freelance journalist; fellow, Institute for Analytic Journalism.

Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon


Go To Commenting

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Writers Guidelines

Contact Author Contact Editor View Authors' Articles
- Advertisement -

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Why the Insanity of College Admissions Will Change

Psychology of Change

Crazy College Admissions and the Canadian Alternative

Don't Know Much About History

Why Our Children Need National Multiple Choice Tests

High School Diploma Should Mean Something

Comments

The time limit for entering new comments on this article has expired.

This limit can be removed. Our paid membership program is designed to give you many benefits, such as removing this time limit. To learn more, please click here.

Comments: Expand   Shrink   Hide  
1 people are discussing this page, with 1 comments
To view all comments:
Expand Comments
(Or you can set your preferences to show all comments, always)

I think that if one is comfortable one is hesitant... by Philip Pease on Sunday, Dec 14, 2008 at 7:54:42 AM