Status quo bias

Theory explained by Sander Volbeda and written by Kahneman, Thaler, and Knetsch

For many people, change is a scary thing. Such people prefer things to be just the way they are without any deviation to the original status. This tendency of human psychology is known as ‘Status Quo’ which is one type of cognitive bias. Changes are perceived by people as a loss or a disadvantage according to this theory of psychology. People see changes as risk-prone situations of losing the benefits of current products or services. But if we carefully think through the Status Quo Bias, we can realize that rejecting change actually causes us to miss out greater benefits and potential opportunities.

Why is Status Quo Bias strongly visible among people? 

1. Our fear of losing is greater than potential gains 
People have a psychological tendency to focus more on what they might lose rather than focusing on what great benefits a change can bring. In other words, losses prominently stand out in the minds of the people than the gains. A slight difference can be seen in the presence of Status Quo Bias in different generations. 

According to similar studies, it was shown that people of old age show a greater bias to Status Quo compared to the younger generation. According to the research findings, knowing what to be exactly expected from the current products or services, people cast off the uncertainty that the changes may bring. 

2. We are very comfortable with whatever familiar to us 
This is another major reason why Status Quo Bias exists. We like to cope up with things which are familiar to us. Many of us don’t like to bother about the uncertainties a change is associated with. For example, we like to see the same happy faces in our working places or similar seating arrangement which brings the homey feeling. Many of us don’t like surprises that may come with changes.  

3. We are simply fully contented with what we already have 
Just assume that you’re in your favourite restaurant thinking about your favourite dish to order. Then you see a new dish included in the menu which seems so mouthwatering, yet you choose to go with the same old favourite because you know that dish will never make you disappointed, but always make you fully content. Even in such a situation, you have a great possibility of missing out a delicious experience. 

How to avoid or covert Status Quo Bias for maximum benefit in web designing? 

1. Do not incorporate major changes to the design of the website 
With the advancement of many tools, technologies and trends, there are numerous modern design templates available online to add a compelling touch to your website. Using such a design is not wrongdoing, but if your template consists of major design changes which are not very familiar to people, then you should think twice. Your design should create a platform for Conversion Rate Optimization. (CRO) 

Just imagine that you visit a site to find a side-scrolling navigation menu. And then the product descriptions are nowhere to be found at the first glance. Would you bother yourself any further to explore more? Even if you did, many others wouldn’t. It’s good to make your website stand out with some cool features but overdoing it won’t do any good.  When we visit a website, we unintentionally expect a layout which is familiar to us. And if you stuff your designs with many unfamiliar features, it can make the visitors confused and leave your site soon due to the effect of Status Quo bias. 

2. Highlight the gains using celebrity endorsement 
It’s true that no business would survive without changes. It’s an inevitable fact that every product or service should incorporate changes to meet the changing consumer needs. But the real challenge lies in how you present the changes to the target audience without letting Status Quo bio negatively affect you. Here comes the tactic of presenting changes in an authentic form. Celebrity endorsement comes in handy in such a situation. For example, you can present changes to your products or services using a celebrity in your website. It’s an ideal way to present changes in an authentic manner. People tend to acknowledge things that their favourite people acknowledge. This is the power of online influencer marketing. 

3. Highlight that nothing is missed with the new changes 
When you showcase the product descriptions in the website, be sure to highlight not only the new value-added features but also the fact that none of the previous benefits was missed out. Also, it’s important to present the content in a similar way how the previous version of the product or service was presented. It would create a sense of familiarity which is very important to avoid the disadvantages of Status Quo bias. 

Wrap up 

Every tactic discussed above will pave the way towards successful Conversion Rate Optimization and after all, it’s your ultimate goal in the online presence. The first and foremost thing to understand is that Status Quo bias exists among people and you can’t force them to get rid of it. The ideal way is to shape up your online presence focusing on how to avoid the drawbacks of Status Quo bias. Even though Status Quo bias says that people tend not to acknowledge changes due to the fear of losing the benefits they experience, when the changes are presented tactically, you can avoid the influence of this bias and drive them towards Conversion Rate Optimization. 

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