Comfort zone

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The three psychological states.

A comfort zone is a psychological state in which things feel familiar to a person and they are at ease and (perceive they are) in control of their environment, experiencing low levels of anxiety and stress. In this zone, a steady level of performance is possible.[1]

Bardwick defines the term as "a behavioral state where a person operates in an anxiety-neutral position."[2] Brown describes it as "Where our uncertainty, scarcity and vulnerability are minimized—where we believe we'll have access to enough love, food, talent, time, admiration. Where we feel we have some control."[3]

Performance management[edit]

White (2009) refers to the "optimal performance zone", in which performance can be enhanced by some amount of stress.[4] Yerkes (1907) who reported, "Anxiety improves performance until a certain optimum level of arousal has been reached. Beyond that point, performance deteriorates as higher levels of anxiety are attained."[5] Beyond the optimum performance zone, lies the "danger zone" in which performance declines rapidly under the influence of greater anxiety.

However, stress in general can have an adverse effect on decision making: fewer alternatives are tried out[6] and more familiar strategies are used, even if they are not helpful anymore.[6]

Optimal performance management requires maximizing time in the optimum performance zone. The main target should be expanding comfort zone and optimal performance zone.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Alasdair A. K. White "From Comfort Zone to Performance Management" [1]
  2. ^ Bardwick, Judith M. (1995). Danger in the Comfort Zone: From Boardroom to Mailroom--how to Break the Entitlement Habit That's Killing American Business. AMACOM Div American Mgmt Assn. ISBN 978-0-8144-7886-8.
  3. ^ Tugend, Alina (11 February 2011). "Tiptoeing Out of One's Comfort Zone (and of Course, Back In)". Retrieved 11 December 2014.
  4. ^ White, Alasdair (1 December 2009). From Comfort Zone to Performance Management: Understanding Development and Performance. White & MacLean Publishing. ISBN 978-2-930583-01-3.
  5. ^ Yerkes, R & Dodson, J. - "The Dancing Mouse, A Study in Animal Behavior" 1907 "Journal of Comparative Neurology & Psychology", Number 18, pp 459–482
  6. ^ a b Staal, Mark A. "Stress, cognition, and human performance: A literature review and conceptual framework." (2004), NASA/TM-2004-212824, IH-054