Review of Behavioral Economics > Vol 9 > Issue 4

Making Change Easy Is Not Always Good

Gilles Grolleau, ESSCA School of Management, France, , Naoufel Mzoughi, ECODEVELOPPEMENT, INRAE, France, , Deborah Peterson, Crawford School of Public Policy – Australian National University, Australia,
Suggested Citation
Gilles Grolleau, Naoufel Mzoughi and Deborah Peterson (2022), "Making Change Easy Is Not Always Good", Review of Behavioral Economics: Vol. 9: No. 4, pp 315-331.

Publication Date: 02 Nov 2022
© 2022 G. Grolleau, N. Mzoughi and D. Peterson
JEL Codes: D91, Q50
Behavioral changeenvironmentgoalspublic policypublic strategies


Download article
In this article:
1. Introduction 
2. A Behavioral Change that is Too Easy Can Deprive the Participants of Meaning 
3. A Behavioral Change that is Too Easy Can Prompt a Detrimental Moral Licensing Effect 
4. A Behavioral Change that is Too Easy Can Lead to Boredom and Disengagement 
5. The Goldilocks Principle: Matching Skills with the Challenge 
6. Illustrative Applications 
7. Conclusion 


A first order law of behavioral change is to make change easy. Nevertheless, this recommendation can sometimes backfire, at least for some subgroups. We examine mechanisms which may cause application of this intuitively convincing rule to be counterproductive, namely lack of meaning, the moral licensing effect, and the boredom threat. We suggest a number of hypotheses, based on our review of the behavioral literature in this area, which could be empirically tested in future research. We also propose some practical ways to avoid the “making things easy” trap and make environmental change more attractive.