Mar 5, 2021
Today is all about status quo
bias. This is perhaps one of the most foundational foundations
there is. It truly is at the center of so many biases and
heuristics the brain uses to make decisions, which is why you have
heard me talk about it a lot on the show.
Most recently, I talked about
this on episode 139 on the endowment effect, and that is because
these two are commonly combined with loss aversion to come up with
a “trifecta” that keeps us stuck. In today’s episode, I’ll go
beyond explaining what status quo bias and why it is such a
foundational foundation...and give you tips for how to be more
effective personally, with colleagues, and the two ways to use it
with customers (if you get it wrong it can mean a huge loss in
- [00:41] Today we will be
talking all about status quo bias which is perhaps one of the most
foundational foundations there is.
- [02:34] First: a reminder of
how the brain works. All our brains have a conscious and
subconscious processing working concurrently all the
- [03:07] The subconscious is in
charge 99% of the time.
- [03:52] The average person
makes 35,000 decisions every single day.
- [04:52] The subconscious
decides what is considered “normal” by using biases and heuristics
(or rules of thumb). Things that have worked in the past that it
believes apply to that specific situation by a millisecond
- [05:29] Your brain wants to
have as much as possible processed by your subconscious because it
is more efficient. It uses less energy. It is faster and it thinks
it knows best. Because the subconscious is a creature of habit and
predictability, it isn’t surprising that it has a very strong bias
for the status quo.
- [06:27] The status quo can
change based on whatever we’ve become accustomed to and that can
change greatly over time.
- [07:56] Now that the change is
upon you, the stuff you know and are used to looks pretty darn
- [08:25] This feeling that the
devil you know is better than the devil you don’t is inherent in
choices we make every day to maintain that status quo.
- [08:55] Melina shares an
interesting article in Psychology Today which talks about a thought
experiment from two different angles.
- [11:49] What would you choose
in each case?
- [13:13] Wanting to keep things
the same or feeling immense stress or fear about the idea of
starting something new doesn’t mean the old thing is better or that
the new thing is worse or a bad decision. It just means that it is
new, and you know that already! That is probably what drew you to
the opportunity in the first place.
- [13:59] If you were looking to
do something new and have done the due diligence, embrace that
feeling as a good sign and move forward with confidence. It will
become a habit before you know it and be a new status quo you can’t
imagine living without.
- [15:36] The pandemic was a
massive, forced shift in circumstance caused (essentially) everyone
on earth to have their status quo bias shaken up in a way that we
had to try new stuff to find a new normal. Solutions that were once
unfathomable are now easy.
- [17:05] There are ways to work
with the biases of the brain so they will be less impactful when
presenting change. If you do that well, people will generally
adjust to the new norm and establish a new bias toward that status
- [19:12] It is very important to
consider the context of your relationship with the customer when
determining how to present information for them and which way to
use status quo bias.
- [20:26] The way you frame your
message is really critical and a subtle shift in the way you talk
about the status quo can be a huge swing in retention
- [21:42] Don’t include too many
choices or too much extra stuff, because, as I already said, when
people get overwhelmed they are more likely to go with the status
- [22:34] Recap: The first most
important thing to remember is that status quo bias is a foundation
for a reason. It is firmly rooted in the way our brains work and it
will always be present.
- [22:58] When you are looking or
planning for a change, know that the feeling of fear as you get
close to pulling the trigger on it doesn’t mean you are on the
- [24:27] I’m the closing keynote
for the Y conference from the Insights Association taking place
virtually on March 9 and 10. The tickets are very affordable and
free to their members and corporate researchers, so go check it out
with the link in the show notes.
- [24:45] It was also just
announced that I will be the MC for the You Better Behave! Virtual
masterclass taking place from 12:00-6:00 Eastern on March 31. This
is also virtual and has keynotes from Nir Eyal and Tim and Kurt
from Behavioral Grooves, as well as confirmed speakers from Bayer,
Reebok, Nestle, and more.
- [25:37] My first book,
What Your Customer Wants (And
Can’t Tell You) is
officially on presale and available on Amazon, Bookshop,
and Barnes &
Noble so you can buy
today and be one of the first to receive a copy when it officially
launches May 11, 2021.
Thanks for listening. Don’t
forget to subscribe on
Android. If you like
what you heard, please leave a
review on iTunes
and share what you liked about the
I hope you love
everything recommended via The Brainy Business! Everything was
independently reviewed and selected by me, Melina Palmer. So you
know, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. That
means if you decide to shop from the links on this page (via Amazon
or others), The Brainy Business may collect a share of sales or
More from The Brainy Business:
Get the Books Mentioned on this Episode:
Past Episodes and Other Important Links:
If you are outside the US, please complete this
form to be first to know
when the book is available near you AND to help show there is a
presence in your country to speed along international agreements
and get it to you faster!