Tag Archives: barry-schwartz

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.