The Psychology Behind Stubbornness

The Psychology Behind Stubbornness


Have you seen those kids who act very stubborn no matter how much their parents try to pamper them. Moreover, we came across many people in our workplace who are very stubborn. Why do they behave like that? What could be the reason behind this stubbornness? Before answering these questions, it is important to know what stubbornness is.

Stubbornness is defined as the personality trait where a person refuses to change their minds and decisions, no matter what the situation is. People with stubbornness are very resistant towards change. Whenever someone tries to change their belief or attitudes, they reject it. Stubbornness has both pros and cons on our mental wellbeing.

Core Psychological Causes of Stubbornness.

1. Desire for control

    It has been observed that the people who are stubborn, often feel that they need to command or be in charge of everything and resist any change. All these things become evident in many aspects of our life like decision making, relationships etc.

    To know about the psychology behind stubbornness, it is important to understand its roots back in the past experience and the kind of personality an individual has. There are many reasons why a person becomes stubborn, but one of the important reasons could be the insecurity factor. As the individual may have a fear of losing their control over something or portrayed as weak, all these factors create a person to show their dominance and refuse any kind of change in it. These feelings can be achieved by asking for the constant validation and desire to prove themselves.

    Also Read: Freud’s Stages of Psychosexual Development

    Furthermore, stubbornness can lead people to become defensive in any situation. They see any situation as a threat to their sense of self and hence they feel that it is important for them to establish a strong self identity. All these behaviours could be the result of low self esteem and the constant need to prove themselves so that they feel worthy of themselves.

    Roots of Stubbornness:

    Past experience has a significant role in making people stubborn. In childhood, people who have controlling or overbearing behaviour may feel the need to control everything. Moreover, they have created a notion that being stubborn can help them to protect themselves. Childhood trauma or any negative experience could make a person stubborn.

    Lastly, emotions also play a crucial role in understanding the psychology behind stubbornness. This includes emotions like fear, anger and anxiety that makes the individual threatened or challenged by others. As a consequence, the person starts becoming stubborn and sees them as the defence mechanism.

    2. Fear of Change

    Fear is one of the emotions that could be the reason behind the person’s stubbornness. As we know that it is human nature to stick to things which they find comfortable and hence stay in that comfort zone. These comfort zones provide a sense of security and stability to them. If they detect any danger no matter how small or big it is, they can view this threat as a trigger which makes a person feel fear or anxiety.

    Also Read: The psychology behind Prosocial Behavior

    Moreover, fear of failure could also be the root cause of stubbornness. This fear can make people avoid taking any risk and as a result, they miss out on the opportunities in their life. When it comes to stubbornness, many people can use it as a defense mechanism to avoid any pain or disappointment when facing failure.

    3. Perfectionism

    Stubbornness and perfectionism share a close relationship with each other. As this personality trait can make people set unrealistic standards for them which can create the feeling of frustration, disappointment and anger in them. Individuals who have a perfectionist mindset makes them reject anything that is not perfect according to them. When these expectations don’t meet, then the sense of self doubt, and feelings of inadequacy come.

    Also Read: Autism Spectrum Disorder

    Sometimes, stubbornness could also be the result of the desire for autonomy and independence. This independence is important for the stubborn people, and whenever other people invade it or impose their things on them, they may feel threatened. Early childhood experiences here also plays a crucial role, as it could be the reason for developing the stubborn trait. If a child’s needs and wants are always dismissed, then they may get stubborn as a way to assert their independence.

    Secondary Factors That Reinforce Stubbornness.

    1. Sunk Cost Fallacy

    The sunk cost fallacy is a cognitive bias that encourages people to spend more time, money, or resources on a decision or activity Despite the fact that doing so is no longer rational. The reason for this is that people tend to place a higher value on things they have previously invested in, assuming that the expenses they’ve already incurred will be wasted if they don’t continue. As a result, the person becomes stubborn and it becomes difficult for them to let go of their initial choice.

    The reason behind this behaviour is individuals have a natural aversion to loss. Giving up on one’s initial decision after realizing it was wrong can be seen as a loss and hence the feeling of disappointment, regret can trigger the people. In order to avoid those feelings, someone can stick with their notion.

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    Furthermore, Accepting that one’s initial decision turned into incorrect may be seen as a blow to one’s ego and might lead to a lower in shallowness. Then the people start protecting their picks.

    2. Environment Enabling Stubbornness:

    The surroundings have a big impact on our personality. Similarly, the stubborn trait is also dependent on the surroundings we’re residing in. If there is a family in which the cussed behaviour is encouraged or tolerated , then children also are possibly to adopt this trait to themselves.
    The reason why they show off such behaviour is they have discovered that cussed behaviour can help them to keep away from disagreement.

    Lack of accountability is any other issue that contributes to this personality trait. Because If someone is not held accountable for their actions and behaviors, they may persist in stubborn behavior without any consequences. This behaviour is also common in places where there is no punishment for rule breakage.


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