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Status Quo Bias – Influence and Sales Strategies

Status Quo Bias - Influence and Sales Strategies

Status Quo Bias – Influence and Sales Strategies


Status Quo Bias suggests that humans have a natural preference for their current situation. Any shift from the current status quo is perceived as a loss and therefore avoided regardless of whether the new situation is better.

Sticking with your current mobile phone or cell phone provider is the perfect example of how the status quo bias may influence your everyday decisions. Even though another cell phone provider might offer more network coverage, more data or more minutes at a cheaper price, you are already familiar with the coverage, rates, add-ons, and customer service offered by your current cell phone or mobile phone provider.

Social psychology researchers have presented several explanations as to why status quo bias occurs. The first is that it is consistent with loss aversion as a principle of persuasion and also of regret avoidance. Both regret avoidance and loss aversion, have been shown to influence decision-making abilities. Secondly, status quo bias has been maintained because it helps to facilitate decision-making This is especially true when we are uncertain of how to act or what to do and how to feel and may become overwhelmed by the number of options we are presented with.

Despite status quo bias causing us to make poor decisions, there is another reason why we will continue to use to it. Generally, when we are faced with a choice or series of choices, it’s not always apparent what the correct decision or choice to make is. Status quo bias gives us something to fall back on at times if we are feeling a little overwhelmed and helps us to guide our decision-making to the ‘safe option’.

Although status quo bias can cause us to make poor decisions, there is a reason why we continue to resort to it. When faced with a choice, it is not always obvious what the correct decision is. Status quo bias gives us something to fall back on at times when we feel overwhelmed.

Early research on status quo bias has proven that the influence of this bias directly correlates with the number of options in the choice set. In other words, as the number of options, we are presented with increases, the more likely we will default to status quo bias. This has been associated to the concept of choice overload, which suggests that the larger the choice we are presented with, the worse the decision we make. 

Some psychologists would even argue that status quo bias does not qualify as decision-making at all because it is more classified as a form of decision avoidance. When we are presented with a wide variety of choices and are uncertain of which option is best, choosing to default to the status quo allows us to escape the stress of having to make a decision at all and thus – falls into the category of decision avoidance.

However, despite this being a poor choice of strategy for rational decision-making, it can, however, be more useful when making more mundane decisions. An example of this may be when having to choose between multiple different kinds of cereals in a supermarket. It’s far easier to choose the same box of breakfast cereal you always buy, rather than look at the other options and their ingredients, weight, value for money, and other potential choices. 

Not only does this allow you to save you time, but it also frees up mental resources, affording you more time to dedicate to other, more important decisions. The time spent weighing up your various options, whether it’s what you wear or what you eat is referred to as deliberation costs and has been presented by psychologists as a reason why, in some cases, status quo bias may not always be maladaptive.



Duncan shares more influence insights and tactical strategies as well as more about status quo bias on his Youtube Channel on Youtube.com/duncanstevens – to discover more about leveraging status quo bias or to even hire him to speak about influence, sales, leadership or collaboration at your event you can follow the link below. Duncan is a professional keynote speaker and global authority on influence and persuasion. 

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