Jonah Berger, author of The Catalyst: How to Change Anyone’s Mind, discusses what we need to know to understand the psychology of change, and how we can be greater catalysts for change.
Everyone desires to be a catalyst for change, and the process of change begins the same for everyone. Jonah states, “You have something you want to change, and you become the hero in your journey. The villain is the status quo bias.” The status quo bias is the idea or belief that people hold on to because it is what they have always known, and it is where they feel safe and comfortable. To change the status quo bias, one must understand the psychology of change, and truly understand the barriers to change.
Real catalysts for change will think of the obstacles and roadblocks to the change they desire. Jonah states,
“Reactance, Endowment, Distance, Uncertainty, Corroborating, and Evidence, are five key roadblocks to change, and catalysts for change will REDUCE these roadblocks.”
Reactance is when someone pushes their belief or idea on someone else, and that person naturally pushes back. When people feel pushed, they will feel a loss of control which will further dig them into their status quo bias. Instead of trying to assert this control and persuade others by pushing, a catalyst for change needs to let the other person persuade themselves, and give them control over their decision.
Jonah discusses three main ways to give that people can avoid the reactance roadblock. First, provide a menu of options. Allowing someone to choose where to start encourages a sense of control and give them an option, which encourages a self guided choice and more focus on their part. Second, ask, don’t tell. Asking questions encourages a dialogue and allows for more understanding on a given issue or topic. Lastly, highlight a gap. If someone can highlight a gap between what someone thinks and how they act, then they can encourage, or guide, the individual to be more consistent. When people are more consistent, and aligned with their attitudes and actions, they feel more functional.
Jonah states, “sometimes we are so focused on the change that we don’t understand the audience.” The more we understand the audience, the more we can recognize and overcome the roadblocks to change for that person or group of people.