Decision inertia: Differentiating motivations of how people make decisions and change their minds (or not) | The Oxford Review

Decision inertia: Differentiating motivations of how people make decisions and change their minds (or not)

Research Briefing

Keywords: decision inertia, decision-making, motivational personality traits, cognitive factors, action-oriented, state-oriented

There is evidence that many people find it hard to change decisions they have previously made. A recent 2019 paper looks at this area of research to understand why people repeatedly make and stick to choices that are not helpful. This unwillingness or inability to change past decisions despite the undesirable consequences can lead to substantial and negative financial, personal and societal outcomes. For instance, it has been found that customers of old technology, such as defunct communications systems still continue to pay contracts, even though those contracts are out of date. Other decision situations include where makers exhibit inertia and refuse to change their decision, even in the face of evidence that their original decision is not the most effective, sensible, best course of action. Time and again people stick to previous decisions rather than switching to clearly superior alternatives.

This research briefing looks at who is most likely to suffer from decision inertia and why.

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