just procrastinating

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Interesting post by Tyler Cowen at Marginal Revolution on how having too many choices affects behavior. Here is a sample:
Sheena Iyengar and Mark Lepper, psychologists at Columbia and Stanford respectively, have shown that as the number of flavors of jam or varieties of chocolate available to shoppers is increased, the likelihood that they will leave the store without buying either jam or chocolate goes up. According to their 2000 study, Ms. Iyengar and Mr. Lepper found that shoppers are 10 times more likely to buy jam when six varieties are on display as when 24 are on the shelf.
This makes sense to me. At some point, the number of choices becomes too confusing to take in at one time, especially if you are someone like me who always wants to make the best choice in terms of quality and value and then will start second guessing my decision at the checkout line. What it boils down to, according to the authors of the study is "plentiful choice increases the chances that people will regret the decisions they make, because of all the bypassed alternatives, many of which might have been better."

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