What Is THE PARADOX OF CHOICE and How Does It Work?

The paradox of choice states that increasing the number of options available does not necessarily make finding the best option easier, but it actually

Paradox of Choice

The paradox of choice, or too much of a good thing, was first coined by Barry Schwartz in his 2004 book, The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less . It describes the cognitive strain that having too many choices can cause an individual, and the possible harmful effects it can have on them. As individuals become more experienced in their field, they tend to know what they want and tend to want less variety. For example, if you are looking for a new car, you may be overwhelmed by all the different choices available to you on the market.

What is paradox of choice

Social scientists say we live in a paradox of choice. The more options we have, the less satisfied we are with our final decision. It’s not just true for purchases either; it applies to all areas of life. From experience, I know that as my to-do list grows, I grow more dissatisfied with what I’ve done. If you make 10 things on your to-do list, you’ll feel worse about each one than if you only had 5 things on your list to begin with. Pareto’s law says that 80% of effects come from 20% causes and maybe it is just as true that 80% satisfaction comes from 20% achievements.

The paradox of choice states that increasing the number of options available does not necessarily make finding the best option easier, but it actually makes it harder. As I mentioned, the paradox of choice describes a trend where increasing the number of options available does not necessarily make finding the best option easier, but can actually lead to indecision due to information overload. Thus, the paradox of choice theory tells us that offering too many choices makes making decisions difficult, and that consumers may not make any decisions to deal with the situation. What we don't realize is that having more choices makes us unhappy and in many cases leaves us unable to choose anything.

Because modern Americans value autonomy, self-determination, and freedom of choice, we assume that more choice means better options and greater satisfaction. In addition, the paradox of choice is always present and affects our daily lives, regardless of the environment in which we have to make decisions and the choices we have. When people are faced with too many choices, they won't be happy with their choice, or they won't be able to make a choice.

For example, one of the most famous studies on the paradox of choice by Sheena Iyengar and Mark Lepper showed that the more choices, the less people buy. Participants who were offered 24 varieties of jam were much less likely to buy a jar than those who were offered only 6 varieties. The average value of all these studies shows that the proposal of a large number of additional options in any case is not significant.


American psychologist Barry Schwartz advises not to offer so many options. But for Barry Schwartz, having too many choices can cause cognitive load, which actually leads to a less fulfilling life. In The Paradox of Choice, Barry Schwartz explains at what point choices become detrimental to our psychological and emotional well-being. Summarizing current research in the social sciences, Schwartz contends against common sense that choicelessness can greatly reduce stress and anxiety in our lives.


It offers practical steps on how to limit your choices to a manageable number, focus on the important ones and ignore the rest, and get more enjoyment out of the choices you need to make. - From the publisher's description. It may be picky, but Barry Schwartz occasionally plays like Statler or Waldorf from The Muppets, complaining about the excessive number of choices he has to make.


The Choice Theory Paradox, explained by Oreoluwa Akinnawo and written by Barry Schwartz The Choice Paradox, popularized by psychologist Barry Schwartz in a 2004 book, is the theory that having more options or choices makes it harder for people to make a decision, which can harm their well-being in the process. The theory has been tested and analyzed in many different ways over the years. The idea of ​​choice overload, and the anxiety and paralysis it can cause, has sparked discussion since the turn of the century, most notably in Barry Schwartz's 2004 book The Paradox of Choice. While I talk about simplicity and abundance of choice and explain why simplicity is better, let me briefly tell you about decision fatigue and why it affects human psychology in terms of choice.

Understand why we feel this way

It’s hard to be sure that you’re making a wise decision when so many options are available. As Barry Schwartz (author of The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less) put it, Choices can be a burden. People with more choices think longer and harder about their decisions than people who have fewer choices. We feel like we need to research every option thoroughly. But often, by taking our time and not purchasing anything, we end up just postponing our purchase for another day—and wasting time in what should have been productive use of our resources. If you’re having trouble choosing which product to buy or which car to lease, consider focusing on one option at a time and comparing it to your needs carefully before picking something else.

At some point, it becomes even easier not to choose an option at all and walk away empty-handed, because the mental effort required to find the best option outweighs the benefits you will get by choosing something. And this is exactly the case when the fewer options, the better, since the probability of making the final choice increases as the number of the choice option decreases. The more choices you have, the less likely you are to make the final choice.

How Paradox of choices affects our decision making

In a 2006 study conducted by Columbia University, researchers described what happens to our brain in stores. They compared shoppers who had 24 different jams to choose from versus those who had only 6 jams. Shoppers with 24 choices were much more indecisive and longer at making decisions than those shoppers who had less choice. The results reveal that reduced choice can be liberating because it reduces consumer anxiety and need for cognition, wrote Professor Wansink. The next time you’re in a store or on an online shopping site, know that too many options actually lead to more anxiety, not less! For online retailers, decreasing your number of products will reduce both cost and conversion rate... so do it already!

When you have too many options to choose from, you make a choice and start to feel like you can do better. You may be frustrated with the choices you make because you always think you can make better choices because there are so many options. Many people are overwhelmed with choices, and faced with time-consuming choices, many cannot or do not want to make a choice but to move on. Patients come to your office, not sure if they made the right choice.


Thus, the more options available, the less confident we become in the final choice. This is where offering a default membership option, rather than deactivating it, doesn't take away the choice, but rather helps us create better options. But this can cause great dissatisfaction, because the abundance of choice is enhanced by endless options. Therefore, it is very important to set up your online store with the right choice of products, because it is very difficult to predict how people will react to an overabundance of choice or lack of sufficient options for a particular style or product.

What to do about Paradox of choices

Reduce options. The key to reducing your stress over too many choices is to cut down on your options, not eliminate them entirely. You can start by limiting yourself to a few items when making a purchase (not asking for samples or reading reviews, for example). If you're not sure which car to buy, don't look at dozens of cars before deciding what to buy—just look at three or four that you think might work for you. If there are three restaurants in your neighborhood that serve pasta and you like Italian food, instead of checking out all three and trying several dishes each at two, just choose one and eat there every time—you'll get more experience with one restaurant than two, but be able to make an informed decision based on past experiences.

Most of what you can do for your patients is simply understand the challenges they face when making healthy choices. Quality information from expert sources (you or your team) removes the paradox of choice and enables patients to make informed decisions.   

Get our guide to the paradox of choice in eCommerce to see the full results and the various strategies your business can use to mitigate paradox of choice issues with online shoppers.   

When you consider all the potential outcomes/risks, especially those related to making the wrong choice, making the decision to buy from an online store can seem completely overwhelming. Research shows that people need an appropriate number of options relevant to their choices to make the best decisions. It can be frustrating to have too many good options, as each option needs to be compared to the others to determine which is better.   

In fact, in some cases it is better to reduce the number of options to reduce anxiety and make decisions easier. For you as an investor, this means that you can look into a pool of assets like ETFs or focus on specific areas like sectors or regions that you know because the more you know about a subject, the less likely you are to will be affected. by the paradox of choice. This may depend on the information provided to us when we make that choice, on the type of experience we must rely on, and on the importance we attach to each choice.   

It seems that there are circumstances in which choices are counterproductive, but despite careful study, we still know little about what they are. Perhaps the choice is not as paradoxical as some psychologists believe. Feeling frustrated with choices when we cannot make the last choice is when the paradox of choice forces us to choose the same place again.


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