Exploring exploration: The role of affective states as forces that hinder change

Stefano Brusoni, Daniella Laureiro-Martínez, Nicola Canessa, Maurizio Zollo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this article we argue that in order to understand failure or success in adapting to environmental change, we should better understand why people hesitate to pursue novel choices. This article asks: what forces hinder individuals' exploration choices of different alternatives, and hence their ability to learn from them? To answer this question, this article looks to the cognitive sciences to identify a set of plausible mechanisms that hinder people's tendency to explore. So far, "exploration" has been studied as a relatively monolithic behavior. Instead, we propose that exploration can be characterized in terms of some distinctive forces behind it. On one hand, agents experience "attachment" to choices that proved successful in the past, and hence comfort when sticking with them. On the other hand, they also experience concerns about less familiar options, as they lack knowledge about "distant" choices that have not been tried for a long time, or ever. We propose that high attachment is related to anxiety, and high distance to fear. Both these negative affective states hinder exploration. We find and discuss preliminary and tentative evidence of this effect.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)207-223
Number of pages17
JournalIndustrial and Corporate Change
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics


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