What is the Status Quo Bias?

Status Quo Bias makes us default to keeping things the same. When new opportunities arise, we would rather stay with what we have than switch to something new. In other words, we think, “the old ideas have always worked, so why change them?”

Example: A paper published in the Journal of Risk and Uncertainty by Samuelson and Zeckhauser articulates an example of this Bias by loyal Coca-Cola drinkers. In the 1980’s, Coca-Cola introduced a “new” Coke recipe with a sweeter taste. Blind taste testers were given samples and concluded that they preferred the new Coke compared to the Coke Classic. However, the Coke Classic proceeded to outsell the new Coke with three times as many sales. Even though there was a clear preference for the new Coke, the Status Quo Bias governed people’s actions as they stuck with what they were accustomed to.

Download our Cognitive Bias cheat sheet for your one-page guide to the eight Cognitive Biases that block innovation efforts.

Download the Cognitive  Bias Cheat-Sheet

Overcoming Status Quo Bias During Innovation

One way to outdo the Status Quo Bias while generating new ideas is through the DREAM™ technique. Welcome to the 21st Century, where everything is an acronym. When addressing a concept, try these five things:

  • Delete: what might you eliminate completely?
  • Reduce: what might you dial down to improve your experience?
  • Enhance: what might you dial up to improve your experience?
  • Add: what might be completely missing from the experience?
  • Maintain: what are the “must-haves” that should not change?

The Status Quo Bias maintains the urge to keep the concept the same, but the DREAM™ technique drives you to change it. See what kind of product you get at each step of the way, then try to combine the various concepts ideated using DREAM™. They won’t necessarily be polished ideas, but doing a Forness® response can take them to the next level. 

For a complete reference to the Cognitive Biases that interfere with innovation, read Outsmart Your Instincts: How the Behavioral InnovationTMApproach Drives Your Company Forward.

What Cognitive Bias Are You?

Take the eight-question quiz to uncover the Cognitive Bias most affecting your ability to innovate. Don't worry, we also provide you with ways to battle each Bias. 

Tyler Thompson

Tyler Thompson is a Creative Process Designer and Facilitator at Ideas To Go, an innovation agency that works with Fortune 500 companies in ideation and concept development to incorporate the voice of the consumer.