Psychological inertia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search


The term Psychological inertia is defined as behavioral continuity (e.g., earlier and later expressions of the same behavior) attributable to a mediating social–cognitive variable like criminal thinking or low self-efficacy for conventional behavior[1].

Examples illustrating the definition[edit]

Psychological Inertia signifies the reluctance of doing something in a different way as you have an indisposition to change. You are drawn to behaving or acting in a certain way as this is how you are mind has been programmed to think and act.[2]

  • Inability to Break with Tradition -
    • The article Psychological Inertia by James Kowalick[2] refers to a company where the President was displeased that company management had little knowledge of what was going on in the manufacturing department. The management team was not approachable and looked down on employees that were not managers. “Remaining behind the sacred doors of one’s managerial office had become quite a tradition.” To address this issue, the President asked each manager to present a manufacturing procedure in detail at the Staff Meeting, having the other managers asking, penetrating questions. As a result, in short time, managers were on the production floor learning the procedures. This form of PI represents “cultural and traditional programming[2]."
Pipes with square cross section.
  • An Impediment to Problem Solving-
    • Psychological Inertia negatively affects personal creativity and limits the ways that one may approach solving problems. Preconceived thought processes such as, “This is the way that things are done,” so, “Just do it this way,” or “Tradition dictates that we do it this way,” or, “You were given the information, and the information is true[2]," can lead to failures or stagnant results.
    • Psychological Inertia can also result from the interpretation of words and their assumed meaning. "How is a pipe able to fit through a square hole if the square hole had slightly less cross-sectional area? The answer, pipes by design do not necessarily have to be round. They can be square[2]."

Applied Assumptions of Psychological Inertia[edit]

  • Prisoner classification during incarceration
    • Theories surrounding the expectation of behavioral continuity are a topic of debate in the criminal justice community. But the conventional wisdom that past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior has generally led to, “An expectation that offenders with histories of criminal violence in the community are at increased risk for disruptive conduct in prison [and] has been operationalized as a routine component in prison risk classifications[3]."


  1. ^ Walters, Glenn D., Espelage, Dorothy L., (2018). "Extending the psychological inertia construct to bullying behavior". Cognitive insensitivity and cognitive impulsivity as mediators of bullying continuity. 33.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link) CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  2. ^ a b c d e Kowalick, James. "Psychological Inertia". The Triz Journal.
  3. ^ Reidy, Thomas J., Sorensen, Jon R., Cunningham, Mark D., (2012). "A test of the behavioral continuity hypothesis". Community violence to prison assault. 36.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link) CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)