Juvenoia – (verb) The fear one generation of adults holds towards the younger generations succeeding them; It often coincides with the inability to fully recall one’s own childhood. This baseline is used as the starting perspective when formulating opinions about “today’s” youth.
It is not uncommon for generations to complain about future generations. Baby Boomers complained about Gen X., Gen X about Millenials, and so on. This cycle dates back to almost the 4th century BC when Socrates mentioned that “children are tyrants.” Damn kids, am I right, Socrates?
Juvenoia is a phenomenon that explains the common reaction many change leaders see. New Work Management software – heck, spreadsheets were better. Calculator? Give me an abacus. Nostalgia is a powerful thing. People love to reminisce about having whiteboards and brainstorming – ignoring that whiteboards were often highly inefficient because, in many environments, they represented the person with the pen, not the collaboration happening in the room.
Juvenoia is also tied to loss aversion or the endowment effect. Daniel Kahneman ran a study at Cornell University. See the complete study here. In summary, 50% of the class were given a mug and asked to put a price they would sell it for. The other 50% of the class were asked how much they would pay to buy it. The group that were given the mug valued the mug at around $5.25. At the same time, the group purchasing the mug put a much lower value on it, about $2.75.
How is this relevant and related to Juvenoia? In essence, loss Aversion and the endowment effect teach us that we have a bias that values what we have more than what we don’t. Or, more correctly, we value what is ‘ours’ or what we have more than we value ‘new.’ In Kahneman’s mug experiment, the owners somehow put an almost 100% increase in value for the same mug.
What’s the point? Juvenoia, loss aversion, and endowment effects are all cognitive biases we have in us. So before we start shouting “get off my lawn” at any new idea coming your way, perhaps, instead, take a breath, put down the widdling stick and consider it.
Conversely, we want to be careful not to swing too far toward the “new is better” mentality either. I mean, watch this Excel ad from 1990 – remember when it was useable? Note I didn’t say useful.