Why we don't like change

Heidi Grant Halvorson explains why we don't like change in this article in the Huffington Post. How about your church, how do you embrace (or not) change?

Explained: Why We Don't Like Change
Heidi Grant Halvorson in The Huffington Post

Thinking about trying to shake things up at work? Brimming with new ideas and strategies? Hoping to get your organization to try a new way of doing things, or maybe just get your family to alter their holiday traditions a bit? Good for you. But if you are going to be an advocate for change, it might help you to start by understanding what you are up against, psychologically speaking.

It's not just that people fear change, though they undoubtedly do. It's also that they genuinely believe (often on an unconscious level) that when you've been doing something a particular way for some time, it must be a good way to do things. And the longer you've been doing it that way, the better it is.

So change isn't simply about embracing something unknown -- it's about giving up something old (and therefore good) for something new (and therefore not good).
A November 2010 study shows that people have a very reliable and tangible preference for things that have been around longer. In one study, students preferred the course requirement described as the status quo over a new version (regardless of whether the new version meant more or less coursework), and liked it even more when it had been around for 100 years rather than only 10 years. In another, people who were told that acupuncture had been in existence for 2,000 years expressed more favorable attitudes toward it than those who were told it existed for 250 years.

Comments (1)

Oh, the question-begging....

Look, I've heard enough "change" sermons to understand that they are a substitute for being able to justify what the rector intends to do on its own merits. They are followed closely by blanket statements about how things have changed that are as a rule bald lying disguised as rough statistical research.

We are in an anamnetic religion. Being actually able to trace things back a long ways is good, even necessary. Practices that symbolize that continuity are, for most people, positive. Something that is only fifty years old starts at a disadvantage, in that it needs to be fit into that millenia-old memory of the faith in order to be justified.

Finally, it is as much a truth of human nature that we want novelty as much as we want stability. We are contradictory beings. A great deal of the urge for change arises out of boredom, or too much time on someone's hands. I'm sure one can rig up situations where the mere fact that something is stated to be newer prejudices people in favor of it. I insist on discussing changes, not Change.


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