A couple decades ago, a pair of psychologists named William Samuelson and Richard Zeckhauser discovered a phenomenon they dubbed the status quo bias. Simply put: most of us have a tendency to keep doing what we've been doing without giving it much thought. . . . We are simply creatures of habit. But maintaining the status quo can become detrimental.
For example, a study was done on college professors who were part of a pension plan. And the researchers discovered that the professors picked a plan upon entering the program, and while they had the freedom to change plans based on life circumstances or market conditions or even the size of their portfolio, the median numbers of changes in their asset allocation was zero! In other words, most of them picked a plan and forgot about it. They stopped evaluating. By the way, what was even more telling is that many of the married participants who joined the program when they were single still had their mothers listed as their beneficiaries.
Have you have ever been offered a free subscription to a magazine for the first year? Why would we be offered something for free? It’s because magazine companies understand the status quo bias. Most of us will forget to cancel. And it’s not really that we’ve forgotten. We’re just too lazy to make a simple phone call or write a simple letter. Right? That is human nature! We tend to keep doing what we’ve been doing. And the problem with that is this: if you keep doing what you’ve always done you’ll keep getting what you’ve always gotten.
I couldn't say it better myself! May you all be richly blessed in 2009.
Reminder: I have two copies of Only Nuns Change Habits Overnight by Karen Scalf Linamen to give away. To enter the random drawing, please e-mail your name and mailing address to email@example.com. I’ll double your chances to win if you tell me your #1 New Year’s Resolution — the one thing you really WANT to change; I’ll post the answers I receive anonymously. The drawing will take place this Friday, January 2, 2009. Good luck!