What makes a person stubborn

Have you ever wondered why some people are so stubborn? What causes stubbornness in people?

Stubbornness is a personality trait in which a person refuses to change his opinion about a situation or refuses to change his mind about the action that he has decided to take.

Stubborn people have a resolute adherence to their own ideas and opinions. They also have a strong resistance to change, especially if the change is inflicted on them by someone else. A stubborn person has the “No I won’t, and you can’t make me” attitude.

Why are people stubborn?

Stubborn people are not stubborn all the time. There may be some specific events or interactions that trigger their stubbornness. In order to understand why some people are stubborn, we have to first remind ourselves of the fact that most human behaviors are reward-seeking or pain-avoiding.

Five stubborn people may be stubborn for five completely different reasons so without generalizing, I’ll try to give you an idea as to how you may figure out the reason behind someone’s stubbornness.

Rewards make people stubborn

Sometimes a person may be stubborn only because he knows that stubbornness helps him to get what he wants. In this case, a person may use his stubbornness to prevent the resistance that others may offer him that would stop him from fulfilling his desire.

For example, a child may be motivated to display stubbornness when she learns that stubbornness makes her parents comply with her desires. She uses stubbornness as a tool to get what she wants. Spoilt children usually behave in this manner.

If a child doesn’t get what she wants simply by asking or by other nice ways then she’s likely to adopt stubbornness, unless her parents don’t allow stubborn behavior. If that works for her, then she’ll continue such behavior in order to keep getting the rewards. On the other hand, when parents are controlling, possessive, and make all the decisions regarding their kid themselves, the child thinks that her freedom is threatened.

stubborn child
Over-controlling parents often find themselves having to deal with their kids being stubborn.

This is a common reason why in later childhood or in teen years, some children become rebellious and stubborn. In this case, stubbornness is a defence mechanism used by a person to avoid the pain of being controlled by others.

We observe this kind of stubbornness in relationships too. For instance, if someone told a person that his wife is too demanding and controlling, then he might suddenly become stubborn even if he used to behave normally before, leaving his wife clueless as to what caused this sudden change in his behavior.

Stubbornness and identity

Stubborn people are rigidly attached to their beliefs, opinions, ideas, and tastes. They can’t stand anyone disagreeing with them because disagreeing with them means disagreeing with who they are. They become stubborn to the point that they don’t even consider the opinion of others because they feel threatened by people who disagree with them.

So, in a way, this is also a type of pain-avoidance. This kind of stubbornness can hamper the growth of a person and badly affect his relationships with people. Some go a step further by totally avoiding the people who don’t agree with them just so they can live in the world of their own ideas and opinions.

Hidden feelings of hostility

Some people act stubbornly just to piss you off. You may have caused them some kind of pain in the past and now they’re getting back at you passive-aggressively. Stubbornness allows them to release their hidden feelings of hatred and hostility towards you.

Handling a stubborn person

A stubborn person can be difficult to handle because he tends to be closed-minded and inflexible. However, if you try to dig deeper and find out the real reason behind his stubbornness then dealing with him will become a lot easier.

You can even directly try to ask him why he’s being so stubborn. This can force him to become self-aware and reflect on his behavior.

A stubborn person hates being controlled so you shouldn’t in any way make him feel that you’re controlling him.

Hanan Parvez (M.B.A., M.A. Psychology) has written 300+ articles at www.psychmechanics.com, a blog with over 3 million views and 100k monthly visitors. His work has been featured on Forbes, Business Insider, Reader's Digest, and Entrepreneur.
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