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Abstract

People favor the existing and longstanding states of the world. Rational explanations for status quo maintenance are complemented by a number of non-rational mechanisms; loss aversion, regret avoidance, repeated exposure, and rationalization create a preference for existing states. We show that the status quo also benefits from a simple assumption of goodness due to mere existence and longevity; people treat existence as a prima facie case for goodness, aesthetic and ethical Longevity increases this preference. These biases operate heuristically, forming barriers to cognitive and social change.