Psychological Hysteresis

Library Info


First, let’s begin with a couple of definitions.


Of, pertaining to, dealing with or affecting the mind, especially as a function of awareness, feeling or motivation.


The phenomenon exhibited by a system, in which the reaction of the system to changes is dependent upon its past reactions to change.


The phenomenon exhibited by people and organizations in response to changes, where they keep the status quo and then overreact to these new changes.


Now we have the basic definitions out the way, creation of the concept is now possible.

People in general have a tendency to continue doing something in the way they are currently doing it, often referred to as Consistency Bias. What we see then is that within people or organizations that are resistant to change, they will handle change poorly and become more resistant to that change. However, once they do start to change they will have a tendency to overdo it in the opposite direction.


Like with so many things, the first priority is identification. The identification of the phenomenon within an organization, group or team, makes is possible to work with and therefore manage.

Adaptive strategies to help with the management of psychological hysteresis enable an organization to avoid all of the worst aspects from manifesting themselves during change. To a greater or lesser extent, everybody prefers a stable environment and this appreciation is vital. Change by its very nature is destabilising. It is, however, inevitable that any organization, which doesn’t embrace change as a slow and continuous process, will have more difficulty with psychological hysteresis than one that does.


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