Our brain is lazy. In fact, we do not like at all to think.
For this reason, once we take an action with an “acceptable” result, our brain stores this information for future use. Any alteration of the context cancels our automatic behaviour and activates the painful process of thinking. So, even when it comes to a change with a clear benefit, we continue to have a natural denial. To understand it better, I will tell you a story.
Have you ever wondered why the buttons on the QWERTY keyboard you use everyday are placed this way? QWERTY keyboard was created in 1870 for today’s ancient typewriters. It was designed to have the most commonly used characters away from each other, to prevent metal plates from being stuck (those who have ever written in a typewriter can understand). In 1932, a scientist and innovator, August Dvorak, designed a new keyboard, known today as the Dvorak Simplified Keyboard, which required fewer finger movements and reduced mistakes dramatically. Someone would expect that such an innovation would be a hit and that the world would immediately replace every old keyboard. Yet, this innovation was a total failure.
Even today, most people continue to use the “obsolete” QWERTY keyboard. The reason? Because the cost of change was and remains higher than its benefit. This is precisely why it is so hard for anyone to change habits: from our mobile phone brand to the restaurant we frequently visit. And if you think that this mainly refers to easy and everyday decisions, you are wrong. Research has shown that especially in decisions that require deeper analysis and thinking, we decide instinctively. Need more proof? Half of us bought the same car brand we had before.
The process of analyzing many parameters is so difficult and painful that practically only the intuitive part of our brain (System 1) can handle, by “consulting” our past experiences. Thus, the habit becomes a very heavy anchor that keeps us trapped in what we have done in the past. This does not, of course, mean that we do not like innovation. The paradox is that anything new has always been attracting our attention. And it is the proper management of precisely this paradox that can make the difference between success and failure.