Paradox of Choice

Happiness - Paradox of Choice

Do more choices make us happier by helping us find the ‘perfect’ choice, or only leave us more confused. Understand why too many choices can lead to buyer paralysis and buyer remorse, and how when it comes to choices, less may in fact be more.

What is the Paradox of Choice?

The Paradox of Choice implies that often the more choices we have, the less happy we are with our eventual decision. There are 4 main elements of the Paradox of Choice

  • Paralysis – What should I pick?
  • Opportunity Cost – Maybe I should have picked the other one?
  • Escalation of Expectations – Expectations multiply with more choices
  • Self Blame – I knew I picked the wrong one

There are 2 main types of people, when it comes to the Paradox of choice

  • Maximizers – who wish to maximize the value of every decision, and do very thorough research in an aim to make the perfect choice. This group is often most likely to face post buyer paralysis and post-purchase remorse.
  • Satisfiers – who are willing to settle for a choice that is good enough. They tend to be happier and waste less time worrying over every decision.

The Paradox of choice has important takeaways from a happiness and a marketing perspective

  • From a happiness perspective, this explains why people who embrace minimalism or a simpler lifestyle are often happier.
  • From a marketing perspective, is that it is best to limit the amount of options we present our customers, to prevent them from going into buyer paralysis and post-purchase remorse.

Advice from the Masters – Paradox of Choice

The fact that some choice is good doesn’t necessarily mean that more choice is better

Learning to choose is hard. Learning to choose well is harder. And learning to choose well in a world of unlimited possibilities is harder still, perhaps too hard.

The alternative to maximizing is to be a satisficer. To satisfice is to settle for something that is good enough and not worry about the possibility that there might be something better

The existence of multiple alternatives makes it easy for us to imagine alternatives that don’t exist—alternatives that combine the attractive features of the ones that do exist. And to the extent that we engage our imaginations in this way, we will be even less satisfied with the alternative we end up choosing. So, once again, a greater variety of choices actually makes us feel worse.

Part of the downside of abundant choice is that each new option adds to the list of trade-offs, and trade-offs have psychological consequences

Barry Schwartz – Author – The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less

Columbia Jam Study: A classic study by Columbia’s Sheena Iyengar and Mark Lepper monitored the behavior of consumers in a grocery store. One day, the store set up a sampling table with 6 different kinds of jam, and customers loved it; another day, the store set up a table with 24 different kinds of jam, and it was even more popular than the first. The surprise came at the cash register: Customers who’d chosen among 6 jams were 10 times more likely to actually buy a jar of jam than customers who’d chosen among 24! It was fun to sample 24 flavors, it seems, but painful to pick among them. The choice was paralyzing.

Chip Health – Author – Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work

Recommended Books – Paradox of Choice

Videos – Paradox of Choice

The paradox of choice | Barry Schwartz

The TED talk by Barry Schwartz, the author and creator of ‘Paradox of Choice’, that explains why the modern concept of having greater freedom of choices, actually leads to negative outcomes for people – in terms of happiness, decision paralysis and regrets.

The Paradox of Choice Explained: Why You’re Unhappy With Your Decisions

Understand the 4 elements that lead to the Paradox of Choice – Paralysis / Opportunity Cost / Escalation of Expectations / Self Blame, and how these lead to you being unhappier with your decisions when you are presented with too many choices.

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