Previous studies have demonstrated that a multitude of options can lead to choice overload, reducing decision quality. Research also shows that an excess of choices often leads us to be less, not more, satisfied once we actually decide. As the number of options increases, the costs, in time and effort, of gathering the information needed to make a good choice also increase. The level of certainty we have about our choice decreases. And the anticipation that we will regret their choice increases.
Most people are instinctively attracted toward situations where a large number of choices are available, as more choices are often associated with more control over our decisions. The reality, however, is that psychological studies have shown that people encounter difficulty objectively evaluating different options when they have more than about 7 different choices. Evaluating too many options can be so mentally taxing that people will often become overwhelmed and decide to forego making a decision altogether, a phenomenon known as analysis paralysis. .... Proctor and Gamble saw sales increase by 10 percent when it reduced the number of Head and Shoulders shampoo varieties available from 26 to 15
Watch Sheena Iyengar demonstrates how businesses (and others) can improve the experience of choosing.......
Four techniques for mitigating the problem of choice overload
- cut - get rid of the extraneous alternatives;
- concretize - make it real
- categorize - we can handle more categories, less choices;
- condition for complexity.
According to Sheena Iyengar "... all of these techniques are designed to help you manage your choices -- better for you, you can use them on yourself, better for the people that you are serving. Because I believe that the key to getting the most from choice is to be choosy about choosing. And the more we're able to be choosy about choosing the better we will be able to practice the art of choosing."
If you are in resistance and reaction, confused, overwhelmed, or unable to make a choice, you need more information. Ask more questions. Ask “What additional information do I need to be clear about this?”