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University of Pennsylvania

Removing Barriers to Change

University of Pennsylvania and Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania via Coursera


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What does it mean to truly change something? How does one persuade others to change? How do we reduce roadblocks to change? In this course, you’ll learn about the barriers to change and how to become more effective in inspiring change within others and your organization. Professor Jonah Berger of the Wharton School has designed this course to help you understand the REDUCE framework, and shows you how to develop your skills of persuasion and influence. By the end of this course, you’ll know both the strengths and weaknesses of certain strategies for removing barriers in change, plus you'll learn how to leverage those strategies to achieve change in both business and in life.


  • Module 1 - The Challenge of Change
    • In this module, we’ll begin by identifying the challenges of change and by defining what the Status Quo Bias is. You’ll weigh the advantages and disadvantages of change, and understand the right balance between potential gains and losses to overcome loss aversion. You’ll learn about the downsides of pushing people to change, discover the importance of being a catalyst, and establish the REDUCE framework. By the end of this module, you’ll be better able to understand the fundamental elements of both change and aversion to change, and be able to identify good change agents to implement while changing both minds and behavior
  • Module 2 - Removing Reactance and Endowment
    • In this module, you’ll examine why warnings backfire, and learn how to ease the Endowment Effect to accomplish your goals. By analyzing the case studies of Procter & Gamble’s Tide Pods and the Arden House Experiments, you’ll be able to identify the process in which warnings become recommendations and the importance of agency and control for people. You’ll learn about successful strategies that allow for more agency in change — and through analyzing real-life examples, you'll discover how easing the Endowment Effect will help others let go of the attachment to the status quo. By the end of this module, you’ll learn effective strategies for surfacing the cost of inaction and framing new things as old, plus you'll be able to encourage others to change with more agency.
  • Module 3 - Overcoming Confirmation Bias and Uncertainty
    • This module was designed to help you analyze the elements of distance and uncertainty in barriers to change and how to overcome them. By discussing examples of political polarization and Confirmation Bias, you’ll distinguish between the zone of acceptance and region of rejection, and assess strategies such as finding the movable middle and finding an unsticking point. You’ll explore the cost of uncertainty and analyze the strategies of Zappos, Acura, and Kia to evaluate best practices on lowering upfront costs. By the end of this module, you’ll be able to employ a toolbox of approaches to overcome elements of distance and uncertainty in change, and be prepared to bring the right persuasive skills to any situation.
  • Module 4 - The Importance of Corroborating Evidence
    • In this module, you’ll examine the importance of corroborating evidence and choosing the right strategy for different segments of people and businesses. By looking at examples of the translation problem, you’ll gain a better understanding of the need for more proof and how concentration increases impact. Through the analogy of the sprinkler and fire hose strategies, you’ll discuss how to find the right balance of methods and where to spend your resources, depending on how strong the attitude for change is in a given group of individuals. By the end of this module, you’ll have a deeper understanding of all of the elements of barriers to change, plus you'll be able to strategize on how to best mitigate them to allow for greater changes within yourself and your organization.

Taught by

Jonah Berger


5.0 rating, based on 1 Class Central review

4.9 rating at Coursera based on 415 ratings

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  • Profile image for Ellisha Mokhtar
    Ellisha Mokhtar
    An insightful course on the barriers that hold people back from change, and how to mitigate these barriers. You get to learn the techniques used by big companies, politicians etc. in advertising, shifting opinions, and also understand why exactly you aren't willing to change to something new even if it's blatantly better. Loved the course.

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