Overcome Your Status Quo Bias By Reversing The Situation

Overcome Your Status Quo Bias By Reversing The Situation

Should you stay or should you go? Status quo bias is our tendency to, when presented with a choice, prefer the current scenario rather than making a change. You can account for this natural bias by reversing the situation and the direction of change.

Photo by David Gómez

Status quo bias stems from a variety of human tendencies. A natural fear of change, our preference for familiarity and laziness all contribute. It’s not our friend, either: Status quo bias contributes to many poorly thought decisions (such as our tendency to overspend on big purchases).

Consider this: would you take a $13,000 wage increase to relocate to another city? Many people would say no. Yet consider the opposite: If you were living in another city, would you take a $13,000 wage decrease to move back to this one?

You can apply this reversal heuristic to smaller decisions, too. For example, instead of wondering whether you should spend a dollar for a chocolate bar, you could ask yourself whether you’d be willing to receive a dollar for skipping a chocolate bar for the day.

This quick reversal is a simpler version of the Reversal Test, a mental tool philosophers use to account for status quo bias.

The Reversal Test [Less Wrong]


  • My former boss once provided me with a very good analogy about just this. He said that I was in a rut – but it was a fur-lined one.

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