Tag Archives: paradox-of-choice

How Different Cultures Define Choice

In her book The Art of Choos­ing, psy­cho­lo­gist Sheena Iyengar—the exper­i­menter who con­duc­ted the ori­gin­al stud­ies lead­ing to the para­dox of choice the­ory—looks at the cul­tur­al dif­fer­ences in the defin­i­tion and accept­ance of choice.

Take a mundane ques­tion: Do you choose to brush your teeth in the morn­ing? Or do you just do it? Can a habit or cus­tom be a choice? When Iyengar asked Japan­ese and Amer­ic­an col­lege stu­dents in Kyoto to record all the choices they made in a day, the Amer­ic­ans included things like brush­ing their teeth and hit­ting the snooze but­ton. The Japan­ese did­n’t con­sider those actions to be choices. The two groups lived sim­il­ar lives. But they defined them dif­fer­ently.

In a review of the book, Iyengar is quoted as say­ing “the optim­al amount of choice lies some­where in between infin­ity and very little, and that optim­um depends on con­text and cul­ture”. I’ve pos­ted before on how we may be over­es­tim­at­ing the para­dox of choice the­ory.

via Mind Hacks

Influencing Behaviour Online

Ignor­ing, for a moment, the rather unsound and out­moded neur­os­cience pro­pounded in the intro­duc­tion, these tips for extend­ing influ­ence online and per­suad­ing your vis­it­ors are worth a few minutes:

  1. Show rat­ings and reviews by oth­er users (for action through social val­id­a­tion).
  2. Provide instant grat­i­fic­a­tion and a quick fix.
  3. Put the most import­ant action to be done first.
  4. Use the illu­sion of scarcity (pre­vi­ously).
  5. Build reci­pro­city by giv­ing away some­thing for free.
  6. Learn to use food, sex and danger in an advert­ising con­text.
  7. Lim­it the choices avail­able and pro­mote bundles (noted in this list with the para­dox of choice/too-much-choice effect the­ory firmly in mind: while the advice is sol­id, the para­dox of choice the­ory is over­es­tim­ated).
  8. Speak to your vis­it­or by using the word ‘You’ (per­son­al­isa­tion).
  9. Get your vis­it­ors to make a (small) com­mit­ment. Prefer­ably a pub­lic one.
  10. Use images that demon­strate sim­il­ar­ity and attract­ive­ness.
  11. Be a mas­ter at telling stor­ies.

Overestimating the Paradox of Choice

Are we over­es­tim­at­ing the reach of the ‘too-much-choice effect’—the phe­nomen­on first noted by Iyengar and Lep­per (2000) [pdf] and pop­ular­ised by Barry Schwartz as the para­dox of choice?

The the­ory states that, con­trary to tra­di­tion­al eco­nom­ic prin­ciples, the more choice con­sumers have the less sat­is­fied and less likely to decide they are. How­ever, this from the abstract of a recent paper show­ing that we may be giv­ing this the­ory too much cre­dence: 

Core the­or­ies in eco­nom­ics, psy­cho­logy ‚and mar­ket­ing sug­gest that decision makers bene­fit from hav­ing more choice. In con­trast, accord­ing to the too-much-choice effect, hav­ing too many options to choose from may ulti­mately decrease the motiv­a­tion to choose and the sat­is­fac­tion with the chosen option. To recon­cile these two pos­i­tions, we tested wheth­er there are spe­cif­ic con­di­tions in which the too-much-choice effect is more or less likely to occur. In three stud­ies with a total of 598 par­ti­cipants, we sys­tem­at­ic­ally invest­ig­ated the mod­er­at­ing impact of choice set sizes, option attract­ive­ness, and wheth­er par­ti­cipants had to jus­ti­fy their choices. […] Over­all, only choice jus­ti­fic­a­tion proved to be an effect­ive mod­er­at­or, call­ing the extent of the too-much-choice effect into ques­tion.