The Paradox of Choice

The Paradox of Choice is an interesting book, that I think is often overlooked.  The premise of the book is actually, that making choices comes with a consequence and while we wouldn’t necessarily give up any particular choice, the total number of choices that we are forced to make is at the very least taxing and potentially robs of us contentment that we might otherwise have.

This view is contended by both Seth Godin “Meatball Sundae”  and Chris Anderson “The Long Tail”, which basically content that people want choice (since they either are willing to buy something that is unique to their taste or because people buy in the long tail).  I think the Paradox of Choice instead argues more about the cost that we have personally in making choices.

One take away from the book was the difference between those who maximize (try to find the BEST deal) and those who satisfice  (Set their standards high, but then buy the first thing that meets their standards). Those who maximize tend to oversell themselves on the product and have more buyers remorse.  Those who satisfice are willing to take it as it comes more often.

Another aspect of this, that ties in with a previous post on the Inertia of Uncertainty, is that when we are presented with too many choices (i.e. someone offers to let you sample 20 different kinds of jam, vs 3 kinds of jam), you are more likely to buy when there are fewer options to choose between.  Couple this with our desire to make Relative Decisions, we can present to our customers and friends choices that best let them choose in a way that is most comfortable to them.

A final note on this, Godin, Anderson, and others, make the point: People want something that was made exactly for them (mass customization).  In this case, having a huge amount of choice can be incredible, BUT you must provide the decider with an index that lets them find exactly what they are looking for.  I recommend reading the Paradox of Choice for some additional perspective on how we decide.






One response to “The Paradox of Choice”

  1. […] [My earlier blog summarizing the concepts in the Paradox of Choice] If you liked this post, share it with your friends: […]

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