Why are people so hesitant to support new ideas?

As we have seen in the past few weeks, people have a natural tendency to prefer things stay the way they are, as well as feeling negative experiences more strongly than positive experiences.

But is there something even stronger at play here?

Is there something about new ideas which scares people?

Some scientists believe the answer is yes, and it is all related to our fear of the unknown.

Fear of the unknown is purported to be one of the fundamental fears that humans, and many other animals have.

It evolved to make us hesitant to go into ambiguous or uncertain new environments which may present a danger, or engage in an activity where we may lose something.

This trait is so hardwired into our brains that when primed to have a feeling of uncertainty, we activate the amygdala, which is the part of our brains which controls our fear response.

As a result, many people exhibit an intolerance of uncertainty, especially people who are more prone to anxiety and depression.

Some researchers suggest that fear of the unknown is so powerful and widespread, that it could be the foundation of so many other fears, that fear of the unknown could be one of the fundamental fears.

So what does this have to do with creativity, innovation and new ideas?

It is how other people perceive your ideas.

While you yourself have likely spent a lot of time going over the idea in your head, maybe even getting used to some of the more risky aspects, it is very different when you tell your idea to someone to whom it is new.

Since it is never clear what will happen when we try an idea which is new and original, there could be a whole range of outcomes if we were to try it.

Some outcomes might be great for everyone.

Some outcomes might be terrible, and therefore make the idea risky.

And some outcome may be that the idea ends up changing nothing.

But in all of these cases, there is uncertainty about what the outcome may be.

And as a result, the brain’s first reaction to this uncertainty is fear and suspicion.

Some people may reach to this fear by completely rejecting the idea the first time they hear it. Some may want to reduce their feelings of uncertainty by asking you to provide more information or data (or certainty) about how it will work. Some will ask you to prove it works in order to feel completely certain.

So if you want people to listen to your ideas or innovation plans, try to do it in a way that reduces uncertainty where possible.

It might just be enough to give the idea a chance to survive. But even that is uncertain.

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Did you know that scientific evidence shows your creativity decreases over time
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Creativity & Innovation expert: I help individuals and companies build their creativity and innovation capabilities, so you can develop the next breakthrough idea which customers love. Chief Editor of Ideatovalue.com and Founder / CEO of Improvides Innovation Consulting. Coach / Speaker / Author / TEDx Speaker / Voted as one of the most influential innovation bloggers.