Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Status-Quo Anxiety

Marybeth, a Women's Health Nurse Practitioner here, sent me this link to a James Surowiecki New Yorker article from August. I think it is really well done.


e-Patient Dave said...

Yo Paul, if you only say that much, you won't get much click-through.:) Here's a synopsis:

A brief but eye-opening essay from August 09 on psychological factors that mediate resistance to change. I love the illustration on the article: an x-ray of some guy reveals that inside, the skeleton has turned away in a "you can't make me" pose.

In addition to the status quo bias Paul wrote about (people in studies rate anything more highly if it's presented as the status quo), there's the endowment effect: experiments show that people who have something value it more highly than those who don't. Impact: people who have insurance value it highly, no matter how flawed.

In our case, in 2008 only 29% rated US healthcare good or excellent, but by July as the debate flamed the number increased to 48%. Did the system change? Not at all - people simply rated it higher after being asked to change it. (The New Yorker article has deeper discussion and links to the polls.)

Seems to me, fear-driven political arguments lead people to think with their reptilian brains, which may be good at vicious self-defense but aren't much in the Thoughtful Planning department.

e-Patient Dave said...

HuffPo has an interesting post with word clouds for those who are for and against the proposed change.