Individuals’ Personal Resistance to Change

overcoming-2127669_1920[We’re pleased to welcome author Shaul Oreg of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He recently published an article in the Journal of Applied Behavioral Science entitled “Resistance to Change and Performance: Toward a More Even-Handed View of Dispositional Resistance,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Dr. Oreg reflect on the inspiration for conducting this research:]

JABS_72ppiRGB_powerpointMy interest in this project derived from my desire to counter the negative view of the resistance to change concept in general, and the notion of individuals’ personal resistance to change more specifically. As a rule, resistance to change is considered to be bad, irrational, and harmful. Accordingly, individuals who are predisposed to resist change are typically viewed in a negative light. They are seen as inferior to those individuals who seek out change and thrive in dynamic environments. This is unfortunate given that there are many situations in our lives in which it is the routine and stable environment that dominates and that requires our attention. We are often required to maintain high levels of motivation and performance in environments that are routine and often monotonous. As such, individuals who shy away from change and prefer routines may actually have an advantage over change-seekers in such stable environments. This is what I set out to demonstrate in this project.

One of the challenges in the project was to devise routine and dynamic environments in the lab that would capture the essence of these environments in real life. Another challenge was obtaining evidence from both laboratory and field settings.

The findings nicely demonstrate both the advantages and disadvantages of dispositional resistance to change in the context of task performance. Whereas high-resistors perform more poorly on dynamic tasks, they outperform their change-loving counterparts when performing routine tasks. Of the four dimensions of the dispositional resistance to change trait, it is the routine-seeking dimension that yields this pattern most consistently.

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Resistance tag photo attributed to NeuPaddy. (CC)

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