Researched by Thomas DeMichelePublished - March 4, 2016 Last Updated - July 14, 2016
How Well Do Humans Adapt to Change?
Humans are generally quick to adapt to change, despite being resistant to it, this is true biologically, socially, and culturally. 
Change, Resistance, and Adaptation: An Overview of Adaptation and Resistance Behaviors
Change, resistance, and adaptation can happen on a lot of levels, and different types of change have different implications.
Humans are Naturally Resistant to Change, Despite Being Quick to Adapt
Humans may be quick to adapt, but seemingly paradoxically we are also resistant to change. We can explain this is from a biological standpoint below. Both are a matter of energy efficiency.
Big changes, like changes in the organizational structure of a workplace, for example, may be met with much higher levels of resistance than say acclimating to a salary increase.
Big changes can be linked to a slow adaptation, and higher than average levels of resistance, for a wide array of emotional and psychological reasons. Even after resistance is met, there may be a learning curve for those who acclimating to the change. By its nature, adaptation is time intensive. Learning a new skill such as a computer program in order to compete in the changing environment is an example of this kind of learning curve.
The processes of change, resistance, and adaptation are fundamental to humans and their relationships. There is a broad range of ways we can show humans being resistant, or slow, to adapt to change both inside and outside the workplace. You can read more about “humans, resistance to change, and adaptation” in the studies below.
Humans may naturally resist change, but there are various ways to overcome resistance. For example, an effective political marketing campaign may be used to acclimate a majority of people to an idea almost overnight. A marketing campaign might be used in order to get everyone excited about an artist or tv show moving in a new direction.
Once resistance has been bypassed, most people are quick to adapt to their new environment.
Simple examples of adapting to change on a social level include acclimating to sudden wealth, getting used to running or dieting, Stockholm syndrome, or becoming comfortable in a new relationship. On a biological level processes like becoming resistant to disease or metabolic change, or even neural network changes happen quickly as well.
The ability to change and adapt to one’s environment, in the short and long term, is key to survivability. So in many respects, our social, emotional, and biological adaptive capacity, is simply a matter of evolutionary energy efficiency. Learn more about how memory works.
TIP: See the national health institute website and search for “adpatation” or “evolution” to find more science behind “how humans evolve to adapt to change on a physical and mental level”.
Groups have distinct differences from the individual members who form the group when it comes to behavior and bias. Group decision making, inventions, government, and technology are all examples of adapting and changing collective intelligence.
Social and Cultural Evolution
Our collective conscious, societal traits and cultural views can change overnight. We can look closer at collective intelligence and complex systems to better understand how we change and adapt on a cultural level.
Being quick to adapt on a societal level is often for the best, allowing advances in science, technology, and social justice to take root quickly. However, this could easily backfire harshly under the rule of an forceful leader, or a negative cultural influence.
FACT: Unfortunately, our environment adapts to us too as with climate change. Humans can also use the groups propensity to change to influence members of the group and group behavior. This is called marketing.
Although the term quick is relative, in general, humans adapt to change quickly. This is true despite the fact that we tend to resist change consciously and stick to what is safe and comfortable.
Change makes us happy and interested, but change isn’t always good. We can just as easily become primed for a genetic disease as we can become resistant to it. Let that last sentence stand as analogy for the vast fields of study which comprise both biological and cultural changes.
Author: Thomas DeMichele
Thomas DeMichele is the content creator behind ObamaCareFacts.com, FactMyth.com, CryptocurrencyFacts.com, and other DogMediaSolutions.com and Massive Dog properties. He also contributes to MakerDAO and other cryptocurrency-based projects. Tom's focus in all...