Paradox of choice

Paradox of choice

We all want choices – and we want to have more and more options to choose from. We associate it with freedom, so we fight to keep it.

What we don’t realise is that having more choices makes us unhappy and in many cases – paralyses us from choosing anything at all.

Despite the common belief, offering more choices does not make the choice easier. On the contrary. Too many options create high opportunity costs. We all hate losing. So in cases when choosing option A means losing option B, we will have hard time deciding which option we prefer. We often get cought up so much on what we will lose by a certain decision that we end up not choosing at all.
As a marketer this is one of the main rules you need to remember: limit the choices you are giving to your prospects.
Let’s say you sell phones, and your new model is ready to launch. It comes in many various options, including a wide range of colours. Now do you want to offer all of the options?
Even though I’m sure you’re tempted to, you should not.
We believe that by having more colour options, we will make it easier for our audience to chose the colour they like – and so decide to chose the phone. And trust me, those looking at your phone believe the same.
But human behaviour isn’t always logical. The studies have shown that even though we think that’s what we want – this is not what makes us happy. By offering people too many colour choices, you will confuse them, you will create high opportunity costs, and as a result – lose them as customers.

This has been described in a famous book by Barry Schwartz: ‘Paradox of choice’. It is one of my favourite books, and I strongly recommend you read it.
Especially for the community of Psychology for Marketers I prepared a 25-min long video in which I summarise the book for you. In it you will learn about the main factors that affect how we make decisions and what kind of impact choices have on our happiness.
And if you’re ready to take the next step, you can get The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Lessnow from Amazon

Get Paradox of choice by Barry Schwartz now:

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  • Anita

    Reply Reply March 31, 2013


  • Sonam

    Reply Reply April 6, 2013

    I can totally ratele to this shopping scenario!When it comes to calling, I think I avoid considering the options. I feel a variety of things: intimidation, because of the overwhelming variety of options apparently available; frustration and disillusionment, because even with a college degree and charming personality, it seems to be much more difficult to actually take advantage of these options than society and media suggest; and inadequacy, when I compare myself to coworkers, friends, former co-students, who are already doing great things while I feel stuck in normalcy. Under typical circumstances, I enjoy using the Internet for research and comparison shopping. But when I type in anything rateled to what feels like calling in my life, I am instantly overstimulated, flooded. The options are paralyzing sometimes.I guess being aware of this paralyzing effect is a helpful first step in overcoming it. But after awareness, what next?

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    • Magda Kay

      Reply Reply July 19, 2017

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