Human inaction costing billions of pounds

SOME OF the region’s leading psychologists are examining how people can overcome crippling ‘inaction’ which is costing them time and money, and endangering their health.

Dr Thomas Webb

A resistance to change is believed to largely be to blame for this self-destructive human behaviour, which the new Institute of Inertia claim is costing the UK £7.6bn.

Psychologists at the University of Sheffield are members of a newly convened group of human behavioural experts at the Institute which has been commissioned by the comparethemarket website.

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Through a series of discussions based on new research findings, the group aims to propose real-life solutions.

Dr Thomas Webb, a social psychologist at the University of Sheffield who will lead the research, said: “The fact that people could save money is widely documented, but we know less about what causes people to spend more than they need to.

“We suspect that one reason could be ‘psychological inertia’. This is the idea that people can be resistant to change and so keep doing things - or not doing things - even if they are not in their best interests.”

A survey, also commissioned by comparethemarket, questioned 2,052 people about their attitudes towards household bills and found that 24 per cent worried about their household finances at least once a week, yet 22 per cent said they had never, or could not remember ever, researching whether they could make savings on their household bills.

Dr Webb added: “One reason that people might struggle to change is that they prefer not to think about their current behaviour – a phenomena referred to as the ostrich problem. The Institute will investigate this idea and other possible reasons for inertia across a number of areas affecting people’s finances.”