[{"command":"settings","settings":{"basePath":"\/","pathPrefix":"","ajaxPageState":{"theme":"ssn","theme_token":"cjJgk63vIVzSSvYIo78TpuNvy08wLzQ6XtpPNe5XL2M","jquery_version":"1.8"},"CToolsModal":{"loadingText":"Loading...","closeText":"Close Window","closeImage":"\u003Cimg typeof=\u0022foaf:Image\u0022 src=\u0022http:\/\/www.scholarsstrategynetwork.org\/sites\/all\/modules\/ctools\/images\/icon-close-window.png\u0022 alt=\u0022Close window\u0022 title=\u0022Close window\u0022 \/\u003E","throbber":"\u003Cimg typeof=\u0022foaf:Image\u0022 src=\u0022http:\/\/www.scholarsstrategynetwork.org\/sites\/all\/modules\/ctools\/images\/throbber.gif\u0022 alt=\u0022Loading\u0022 title=\u0022Loading...\u0022 \/\u003E"}},"merge":true},{"command":"modal_display","title":"Republish this content","output":"\u003Cdiv id=\u0022soc_modal_wrapper\u0022\u003E\n \u003Cdiv id=\u0022soc_guidelines\u0022\u003E\n \u003Cdiv id=\u0022soc_license\u0022\u003E\n\u003Ca href=\u0022http:\/\/creativecommons.org\/licenses\/by-nd\/4.0\/\u0022 target=\u0022_blank\u0022\u003E\u003Cimg typeof=\u0022foaf:Image\u0022 src=\u0022http:\/\/www.scholarsstrategynetwork.org\/sites\/all\/modules\/stealourcontent\/images\/cc-by-nd-4.png\u0022 alt=\u0022License\u0022 \/\u003E\u003C\/a\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\n \u003Cp\u003ELike this content? Republish it! But please do not edit the piece. Also make sure that you attribute the author, and mention the article was originally published on Scholars Strategy Network. \u003Cem\u003EBy copying and pasting the markup below you will be adhering to these guidelines.\u003C\/em\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003Cp\u003E\u003Ca href=\u0022\/republishing-ssn-articles\u0022\u003EView additional guideline details.\u003C\/a\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\n \u003Ctextarea\u003E\n \u003Cdiv about=\u0022\/brief\/why-dissatisfied-people-settle-status-quo\u0022 typeof=\u0022sioc:Item foaf:Document\u0022 class=\u0022ds-1col node node-brief view-mode-stealourcontent_node clearfix\u0022\u003E\n \u003Ch2\u003E\n Why Dissatisfied People Settle for the Status Quo\n \u003C\/h2\u003E\u003Ca href=\u0022http:\/\/www.scholarsstrategynetwork.org\/scholar\/musa-al-gharbi\u0022\u003EMusa al-Gharbi\u003C\/a\u003E, Columbia University and Heterodox Academy\n \u003Cp\u003E\n Observers often assume that when people are dissatisfied, they will demand changes. But cognitive and behavioral scientists know that frequently is not the case, because a situation called \u201cthe default effect\u201d prevails.\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003Cp\u003E\n Here is an example. Americans have widespread concerns about how software and entertainment companies are collecting and using personal electronic data or manipulating their choices. Yet in most cases companies \u003Cem\u003Edo\u003C\/em\u003E disclose what data they collect and what they do with it. And they typically allow consumers to adjust their computer settings to exert greater control over what gets disclosed and how it is used \u2013 and even provide the ability to \u201copt out\u201d of features that users find undesirable. Nonetheless, only around five percent of users meaningfully adjust their default settings \u2013 and, in fact, most never even read the terms of service agreement.\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003Cp\u003E\n Most people would have to invest considerable time and effort to effectively navigate the \u201clegalese\u201d of service contracts. They would struggle to understand what their default settings are, identify which ones they would like to change, learn how and why to change those settings. Hence, we arrive in a situation where, despite the fact that most people worry about misuse of their personal data, almost no one attempts to do anything about it. The \u201cdefault effect\u201d takes hold.\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003Cp\u003E\n \u003Cspan class=\u0022brief-title\u0022\u003EThe Power of Defaults in the Political Sphere\u003C\/span\u003E\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003Cp\u003E\n The power of defaults is even more pronounced in the political sphere, where people tend to have investments in the established order that would be painful to sacrifice \u2013 and also are quite uncertain about what would follow if the status quo were overturned.\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003Cp\u003E\n I first began noticing the default effect in the context of the Syrian Civil War. From my research, it was clear that most Syrians \u003Cem\u003Edid\u003C\/em\u003E crave major changes in their government, yet they overwhelmingly rejected the armed uprising against the Assad regime.\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003Cp\u003E\n Critically, this rejection of armed rebellion did\u003Cem\u003E\u0026nbsp;not\u003C\/em\u003E seem to flow from a belief that rebels had no chance to overthrow the regime. Syrians were concerned and cautious because they realized that \u003Cem\u003Eno one\u003C\/em\u003E knew what would happen if the uprising was successful; none of the optimistic scenarios about what might happen seemed particularly plausible or viable. The most likely alternatives to the regime were themselves also highly unattractive. Consequently, Syrians overwhelmingly aligned themselves with the state, albeit often begrudgingly.\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003Cp\u003E\n Politics in the United States function in much the same way: the incumbent typically wins. Public dissatisfaction with the direction things are going \u2013 and even low approval ratings of the specific politician seeking reelection \u2013 only tend to matter when the opposition party \u003Cem\u003Esimultaneously\u003C\/em\u003E puts forward a particularly credible and compelling challenger. Presented with a choice between the \u201clesser of two evils\u201d the public tends to stick with the \u201cdevil they know.\u201d\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003Cp\u003E\n \u003Cspan class=\u0022brief-title\u0022\u003EImplications for Social Research\u003C\/span\u003E\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003Cp\u003E\n Understanding the default effect is not only useful for understanding and predicting social phenomena \u2013 it can help us understand why social science critiques often do not lead to calls for change.\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003Cp\u003E\n Social scientists spend a lot of time and effort criticizing, deconstructing and otherwise problematizing various systems, institutions, ideologies and policies. However, it is much less common for researchers to develop alternative social arrangements that could be plausibly implemented in the \u201creal world.\u201d And it is exceedingly rare for social scientists to meaningfully engage with the public and policymakers in order to help translate those possibilities into realities.\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003Cp\u003E\n However, articulating plausible solutions is arguably crucial for actually mitigating the social problems researchers identify and analyze. Until they see a viable alternative they can rally behind, people tend to stand with established orders \u2013 even orders that are highly dysfunctional or especially disliked. Absent options, critiques of the flaws of established orders can be futile.\u0026nbsp; \u0026nbsp;\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003Cp\u003E\n \u003Cspan class=\u0022brief-title\u0022\u003EResearchers Need to Articulate Workable Alternatives, Not Just Critiques\u003C\/span\u003E\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003Cp\u003E\n Social science, in short, could become much more effective if researchers utilized their expertise to not only explain what does not work (and why), but also to articulate better alternatives. This means laying out not merely what could logically work in an ideal world, and not just what would have worked in a counterfactual past or could work in an ideal future. Instead, the focus should be on what practical steps can be plausibly taken here and now \u2013 in specific ways by actual people \u2013 to make headway on social problems.\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003Cp\u003E\n To be sure, this is a demanding aspiration for researchers. Offering specific and viable proposals requires an intimate level of familiarity with the object of analysis and surrounding milieu. It is far less glamorous to develop such an analysis than to simply level a critique or spin novel concepts or propose sweeping theories. But ultimately, this is the only way for social research to further constructive, social change. To shirk responsibility for articulating grounded solutions to societal ills, is to reinforce most citizens\u2019 tendency to simply accommodate an unsatisfactory status quo.\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003Cp\u003E\n \u003Cspan class=\u0022brief-footer-comments\u0022\u003ERead more in Musa\u0026nbsp;Al-Gharbi\u0026nbsp;\u201c\u003Ca href=\u0022https:\/\/theconversation.com\/trump-will-likely-win-reelection-in-2020-77362\u0022\u003ETrump Will Likely Win Reelection in 2020\u003C\/a\u003E,\u201d\u003Cem\u003E\u0026nbsp;The Conversation\u003C\/em\u003E\u0026nbsp;(2017), \u201c\u003Ca href=\u0022http:\/\/www.mepc.org\/syria-contextualized-numbers-game\u0022\u003ESyria Contextualized: A Numbers Game\u003C\/a\u003E,\u201d\u0026nbsp;\u003Cem\u003EMiddle East Policy\u003C\/em\u003E\u0026nbsp;(2013) and \u201c\u003Ca href=\u0022https:\/\/www.timeshighereducation.com\/opinion\/lack-of-ideological-diversity-is-killing-social-research\u0022\u003EA Lack of Ideological Diversity is Killing Social Research\u003C\/a\u003E,\u201d\u0026nbsp;\u003Cem\u003ETimes Higher Education\u003C\/em\u003E\u0026nbsp;(2017).\u003C\/span\u003E\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003Ctable align=\u0022left\u0022 border=\u00220\u0022 cellpadding=\u00221\u0022 cellspacing=\u00221\u0022\u003E\n \u003Ctr\u003E\n \u003Ctd\u003E\n \u003Ca href=\u0022http:\/\/www.scholars.org\u0022\u003Ewww.scholars.org\u003C\/a\u003E\n \u003C\/td\u003E\n \u003C\/tr\u003E\n \u003C\/table\u003E\n \u003Ctable align=\u0022right\u0022 border=\u00220\u0022 cellpadding=\u00221\u0022 cellspacing=\u00221\u0022\u003E\n \u003Ctr\u003E\n \u003Ctd\u003E\n July 2017\n \u003C\/td\u003E\n \u003C\/tr\u003E\n \u003C\/table\u003E\n \u003Cp\u003E\n \u0026nbsp;\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E \u003Cp\u003EThis article was originally published on \u003Ca href=\u0022http:\/\/www.scholarsstrategynetwork.org\/\u0022\u003EScholars Strategy Network\u003C\/a\u003E. Read the \u003Ca href=\u0022http:\/\/www.scholarsstrategynetwork.org\/brief\/why-dissatisfied-people-settle-status-quo\u0022\u003Eoriginal article\u003C\/a\u003E.\u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003Cimg height=\u00221\u0022 width=\u00221\u0022 typeof=\u0022foaf:Image\u0022 src=\u0022http:\/\/www.scholarsstrategynetwork.org\/stealourcontent\/track.gif?nid=39594\u0022 alt=\u0022\u0022 \/\u003E \u003C\/textarea\u003E\n\n \u003Cp\u003ECopy the above code and paste it into your website or CMS to republish.\u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n"}]