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Status quo bias

Status quo bias

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Status quo bias

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  1. Status quobias Avoiding action Avoiding change

  2. Status Quo Bias: Readings • Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman • Chapter 28, “Defending the Status Quo” • Nudge by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein • Chapter 1, “Status Quo Bias”

  3. Status quo bias: Avoiding action and avoiding change • We are biased to keep things the way they are • Even if we didn’t originally choose it! • We are biased to avoid risks generated by change • Even when the risks are less than from making no change! • But change may be necessary

  4. Loss Aversion → Change Aversion • A proposed reform may have lots of pluses and a few minuses • Loss aversion magnifies the impact of the minuses • As a result, we tend to instinctually resist change

  5. Loss Aversion → Stalemate • In any negotiation, each side makes a demand and a concession • But, even if each side wants to be fair, loss aversion makes them make a big demand and a small concession • Naturally, the other side rejects the proposal and replies with a big demand and a small concession of its own • This is why negotiations are never easy

  6. Loss Aversion → Stalemate • A proposal would have a better chance of success if the concessions each side has to make are required of future generations or cohorts while sparing the current generation or cohort • Also, negotiators often attempt to convince the other side that their side is making concessions that are huge losses

  7. Lack of Attention • Apart from loss aversion, another reason for the status quo bias is simply our lack of attention to the choices we make • We often stick with the default option • In retirement plans • In organ donation • Marketing pros and policy makers pay a lot of attention to choosing the default option

  8. Students at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and Boston University School of Management were given different questions, some indicating a status quo, others not

  9. You recently inherited some money from your great uncle. Choose one of the following investments for the inheritance. Invest in moderate-risk company A. Invest in high-risk company B. Which choice was the most popular? Outcome probabilities Samuelson, W. (Boston U.) & Zeckhauser, R. (Harvard), 1988, Status quo bias in decision making. Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, 1, 7-59.

  10. You recently inherited some money from your great uncle. Choose one of the following investments for the inheritance. Invest in moderate-risk company A. Invest in high-risk company B. 40% 60% Outcome probabilities Samuelson, W. (Boston U.) & Zeckhauser, R. (Harvard), 1988, Status quo bias in decision making. Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, 1, 7-59.

  11. You recently inherited some money and stocks from your great uncle. The stocks are in high-risk company B. (The tax and broker charges to change are inconsequential.) Invest in moderate-risk company A. Invest in high-risk company B. Which choice was the most popular? Outcome probabilities Samuelson, W. (Boston U.) & Zeckhauser, R. (Harvard), 1988, Status quo bias in decision making. Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, 1, 7-59.

  12. You recently inherited some money and stocks from your great uncle. The stocks are in high-risk company B. The tax and broker charges to change are inconsequential. Invest in moderate-risk company A. Invest in high-risk company B. 56% 44% Outcome probabilities Samuelson, W. (Boston U.) & Zeckhauser, R. (Harvard), 1988, Status quo bias in decision making. Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, 1, 7-59.

  13. You recently inherited some money and stocks from your great uncle. The stocks are in moderate-risk company A. (The tax and broker charges to change are inconsequential.) Invest in moderate-risk company A. Invest in high-risk company B. Which choice was the most popular? Outcome probabilities Samuelson, W. (Boston U.) & Zeckhauser, R. (Harvard), 1988, Status quo bias in decision making. Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, 1, 7-59.

  14. You recently inherited some money and stocks from your great uncle. The stocks are in moderate-risk company A. The tax and broker charges to change are inconsequential. Invest in moderate-risk company A. Invest in high-risk company B. 37% 63% Outcome probabilities Samuelson, W. (Boston U.) & Zeckhauser, R. (Harvard), 1988, Status quo bias in decision making. Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, 1, 7-59.

  15. Which choice was the most popular? Choose how the Highway Safety Commission should divide its budget between improving auto safety (seatbelts, bumpers, etc.) and highway safety (guard rails, interchanges, etc.). • 70% to auto safety and 30% to highway safety • 30% to auto safety and 70% to highway safety Samuelson, W. (Boston U.) & Zeckhauser, R. (Harvard), 1988, Status quo bias in decision making. Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, 1, 7-59.

  16. Choose how the Highway Safety Commission should divide its budget between improving auto safety (seatbelts, bumpers, etc.) and highway safety (guard rails, interchanges, etc.). • 70% to auto safety and 30% to highway safety • 30% to auto safety and 70% to highway safety 53% About even 47% Samuelson, W. (Boston U.) & Zeckhauser, R. (Harvard), 1988, Status quo bias in decision making. Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, 1, 7-59.

  17. Which choice was the most popular? Choose how the Highway Safety Commission should divide its budget between improving auto safety (seatbelts, bumpers, etc.) and highway safety (guard rails, interchanges, etc.). Currently 70% goes to auto safety and 30% to highway safety. • 70% to auto safety and 30% to highway safety • 30% to auto safety and 70% to highway safety Samuelson, W. (Boston U.) & Zeckhauser, R. (Harvard), 1988, Status quo bias in decision making. Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, 1, 7-59.

  18. Choose how the Highway Safety Commission should divide its budget between improving auto safety (seatbelts, bumpers, etc.) and highway safety (guard rails, interchanges, etc.). Currently 70% goes to auto safety and 30% to highway safety. • 70% to auto safety and 30% to highway safety • 30% to auto safety and 70% to highway safety 62% Almost 2-1 for cars 38% Samuelson, W. (Boston U.) & Zeckhauser, R. (Harvard), 1988, Status quo bias in decision making. Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, 1, 7-59.

  19. Which choice was the most popular? Choose how the Highway Safety Commission should divide its budget between improving auto safety (seatbelts, bumpers, etc.) and highway safety (guard rails, interchanges, etc.). Currently 30% goes to auto safety and 70% to highway safety. • 70% to auto safety and 30% to highway safety • 30% to auto safety and 70% to highway safety Samuelson, W. (Boston U.) & Zeckhauser, R. (Harvard), 1988, Status quo bias in decision making. Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, 1, 7-59.

  20. Choose how the Highway Safety Commission should divide its budget between improving auto safety (seatbelts, bumpers, etc.) and highway safety (guard rails, interchanges, etc.). Currently 30% goes to auto safety and 70% to highway safety. • 70% to auto safety and 30% to highway safety • 30% to auto safety and 70% to highway safety 38% Almost 2-1 for roads 62% Samuelson, W. (Boston U.) & Zeckhauser, R. (Harvard), 1988, Status quo bias in decision making. Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, 1, 7-59.

  21. You are preparing a bid for your company to supply mattresses to the government. When bidding for large department store orders the company has often applied a 15% markup. Choose one: • Bid with a 15% markup (chances of winning the contract are 70%) B) Bid with a 25% markup (chances of winning the contract are 50%) 95% 5% Samuelson, W. (Boston U.) & Zeckhauser, R. (Harvard), 1988, Status quo bias in decision making. Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, 1, 7-59.

  22. You are preparing a bid for your company to supply mattresses to the government. When bidding for large department store orders the company has often applied a 25% markup. Choose one: • Bid with a 15% markup (chances of winning the contract are 70%) B) Bid with a 25% markup (chances of winning the contract are 50%) 72% 28% Samuelson, W. (Boston U.) & Zeckhauser, R. (Harvard), 1988, Status quo bias in decision making. Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, 1, 7-59.

  23. Building new v. expanding old Which choice was the most popular? As chief of the governor’s task force, you are considering options for increasing the capacity of the state’s prisons. • Expand the current prison in Town A (sparsely settled) to house 1500 prisoners at a cost of $140 million. • Build a new prison in Town B (where the population is densely settled) to house 2000 prisoners at a cost of $150 million. 65% 35% Samuelson, W. (Boston U.) & Zeckhauser, R. (Harvard), 1988, Status quo bias in decision making. Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, 1, 7-59.

  24. Building new v. expanding old Which choice was the most popular? As chief of the governor’s task force, you are considering options for increasing the capacity of the state’s prisons. • Build a new prison in Town A (sparsely settled) to house 1500 prisoners at a cost of $140 million. B) Expand the current prison in Town B (where the population is densely settled) to house 2000 prisoners at a cost of $150 million. 32% 68% Samuelson, W. (Boston U.) & Zeckhauser, R. (Harvard), 1988, Status quo bias in decision making. Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, 1, 7-59.

  25. Color Red Selected Two months ago you put yourself on a waiting list for a highly desired new car. To speed delivery, you agree to accept any color (red,blue,tanorwhite). Two days ago, the dealer indicated that all four colors are now available. 22% 53% 15% Yesterday the dealer called to say that a RED car had arrived. Today when you call, you learn you can also choose from three other colors. Yesterday the dealer called to say that a (blue, tan, or white) car had arrived. Today when you call, you learn you can also choose from three other colors. Samuelson, W. (Boston U.) & Zeckhauser, R. (Harvard), 1988, Status quo bias in decision making. Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, 1, 7-59.

  26. Color Blue Selected Two months ago you put yourself on a waiting list for a highly desired new car. To speed delivery, you agree to accept any color (red,blue,tanorwhite). Two days ago, the dealer indicated that all four colors are now available. 52% 76% 50% Yesterday the dealer called to say that a BLUEcar had arrived. Today when you call, you learn you can also choose from three other colors. Yesterday the dealer called to say that a (red, tan, or white) car had arrived. Today when you call, you learn you can also choose from three other colors. Samuelson, W. (Boston U.) & Zeckhauser, R. (Harvard), 1988, Status quo bias in decision making. Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, 1, 7-59.

  27. Color Tan Selected Two months ago you put yourself on a waiting list for a highly desired new car. To speed delivery, you agree to accept any color (red,blue,tanorwhite). Two days ago, the dealer indicated that all four colors are now available. 9% 13% 2% Yesterday the dealer called to say that a TANcar had arrived. Today when you call, you learn you can also choose from three other colors. Yesterday the dealer called to say that a (blue, red , or white) car had arrived. Today when you call, you learn you can also choose from three other colors. Samuelson, W. (Boston U.) & Zeckhauser, R. (Harvard), 1988, Status quo bias in decision making. Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, 1, 7-59.

  28. Color Red Selected Two months ago you put yourself on a waiting list for a highly desired new car. To speed delivery, you agree to accept any color (red,blue,tanorwhite). Two days ago, the dealer indicated that all four colors are now available. 17% 28% 9% Yesterday the dealer called to say that a WHITEcar had arrived. Today when you call, you learn you can also choose from three other colors. Yesterday the dealer called to say that a (blue, tan, or white) car had arrived. Today when you call, you learn you can also choose from three other colors. Samuelson, W. (Boston U.) & Zeckhauser, R. (Harvard), 1988, Status quo bias in decision making. Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, 1, 7-59.

  29. Surveying college students in different locations where policies were and were not the status quo. A. Moshinsky & M Bar-Hillel, 2004, Working Paper, Loss Aversion and the Status-Quo Label Bias

  30. Inertia v. Action Who feels worse? A) Paul owns shares in Company A. During the past year he has considered switching to stock in company B, but he decided against it. He now finds he would have been better off by $1200 if he had switched to the stock of company B. B) George owns shares in company B. During the past year he switched to stock in company A. He now finds that he would have been better off by $1200 if he had kept his stock in company B.

  31. Inertia v. Action Who feels worse? A) Paul owns shares in Company A. During the past year he has considered switching to stock in company B, but he decided against it. He now finds he would have been better off by $1200 if he had switched to the stock of company B. B) George owns shares in company B. During the past year he switched to stock in company A. He now finds that he would have been better off by $1200 if he had kept his stock in company B. Most people think George would feel worse Kahneman, D. & Tversky, A., 1982, The psychology of preferences. Scientific American, 246, 160-173.

  32. “Imagine that you are married and have one child, a one-year old. You wonder whether you should vaccinate your child. Your child will have a 10 in 10,000 chance of dying from the flu without the vaccination” Would most people vaccinate if the vaccine had a 6 in 10,000 chance of causing death? Ritov, I (U. Penn) & Baron, J. (U. Penn), 1990, Reluctance to vaccinate: Omission bias and ambiguity. Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, 3, 263-277.

  33. “Imagine that you are married and have one child, a one-year old. You wonder whether you should vaccinate your child. Your child will have a 10 in 10,000 chance of dying from the flu without the vaccination” Would most people vaccinate if the vaccine had a 6 in 10,000 chance of causing death? NO. Ritov, I (U. Penn) & Baron, J. (U. Penn), 1990, Reluctance to vaccinate: Omission bias and ambiguity. Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, 3, 263-277.

  34. Harvard employees who started when there were few health insurance options tended to stay with initial choices, even when new options become available. Employees who began later were much less likely to choose the older plans. Samuelson, W. (Boston U.) & Zeckhauser, R. (Harvard), 1988, Status quo bias in decision making. Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, 1, 7-59.

  35. Status quo bias: Avoiding action and avoiding change • We are biased to keep things the way they are • Even if we didn’t originally choose it! • We are biased to avoid risks generated by change • Even when the risks are less than from making no change! But, changing outcomes requires pursuing action and change