Why do most people resist change? What are the possible benefits of resistance to change?human behavior

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In analyzing the question from a political point of view, there is a natural inertia to change because of its destabilizing effects.  The reality is that from an institutional point of view in terms of politics, change translates into some individual or political faction losing party.  Politicians, thus, have a natural antipathy towards change because it translates into a natural dis-empowerment.  I think this is why change is not actively sought by political officials that are in charge.  Change is the mantra embraced by those who are not in political charge or control.  At the same time, one can draw historical references that indicate that the notion of "change" might not be always a good thing.  Hitler's ascendancy to power invoked the notion of change quite a bit.  Mussolini's grasp of power tightened in promising change to the masses.  Certainly, Lenin, Stalin, and Mao Tse- Tung offered the principle of change on a wide level and the results speak for themselves.  The idea of change is a potent one and individuals in history have seized it as a means of riding the wave of political sentiment into power.

kc4u | Student

Yours is indeed a very curious and provocative question. Yes, majority of people resist change, for there is in us some inherent fondness towards 'status quo' which is due to suffer, may be for the worse, if a change is invited to occur. Furthermore, change requires motivation, enterprise, mobility--that is to say, a good deal of application of mind as well as a lot of action which may involve some risks and uncertainties. To disturb the 'status quo' is to invite a state of fluidity which may end up with results unwarranted, even counter-productive. We all generally love stability, and do not encourage any process of change unless such changes are assuredly beneficial for us. Changes involve costs--individual as well as social/collective, and who likes to incur costs if there is no assurance of profitable returns?

The possible benefits of resisting change are:

1. satisfaction to live with the known devils, rather than to invite unknown friends;

2. shun the costs of ushering in changes;

3. it's better to live with some illusions rather than face the realities of life, for humankind can hardly bear with such realities;

4. a bird in hand is always worth two in the bush;

5. to invite change would mean to oppose the stabilised conventions, and so to fend off change is to enjoy the majority status of being predictable & conventional.

krishna-agrawala | Student

Most of the people have a tendency to resist change of any type. Reason for this can be summarized as fear of the unknown or the unfamiliar. Whenever there is change, people have moving from something known an familiar to something  unfamiliar. It is possible that the change is ultimately for the good of the person, but this is just a possibility. The present may not be very satisfactory but it is something known to which people have become used. Whereas the changed condition may mean moving from frying pan to the fire.

More specifically people may experience the following type of anxieties associated with change.

  • Moving from the comfort of the familiar to which a person is already accustomed to the unknown and unfamiliar. People form habits or routines in their day to day work which makes their life easier. A change means having to change these routines and habits requiring additional efforts. Also people may need to acquire new skills.
  • People may fear loss of their position and power under the changed systems.
  • People may also be required to take on additional responsibilities with additional power, and they may not feel very confident of being able to discharge these additional responsibilities well enough.
  • Change is always aimed at improving the performance. This means that people are expected to deliver better results. The individuals thus feel the pressure to perform better, and they may not be confident that they can do it.
  • In the past their experience with changes may have been bad and due to this they may develop a basic dislike or fear for all changes.

In addition to these anxieties associated with change people may resist change also because they believe or perceive the proposed change to be undesirable.

Finally change is also resisted because the process of change itself is usually painful. People may have to put in additional effort during the period of change so that they can introduce new system without disrupting the work during the changeover period.

Changes are in general essential and desirable. However too many changes occurring too frequently can be disruptive. The resistance of change acts as a damper on excessive and harmful change. This is the only benefit of resistance to change.