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How Much Choice Is Too Much?

I know we Americans like choice, but sometimes there’s almost too much of it, you know what I mean? Take buying bread, for instance, or coffee at Starbucks (which boasts of having 10s of thousands of drink combinations). I know, some of you “get it” but love all the choices, like a game of sorts, but for me time is money and if that wonderful smorgasbord of choices makes the purchase take longer or involves a five minute explanation from the server, I get a little nervous.

Somewhere out there, I know, is someone already making a million dollars employing the “science of simplicity,” but where exactly they are is beyond me. Just a quick search of the idea that there is “too much choice,” however, brings up a number of studies and papers on the subject.

“Why Too Much Choice Is Bad,” the headline from Business Insider reads. “Are You Losing Sales by Giving Customers Too Many Choice,” reads another. An Oct. 9, 2018 article in the magazine Psychology Today, written by Eva Krackow, echoes the growing consensus: too much choice creates to “decision paralysis,” which is understandable. But Krackow also says it leads to disappointment, oddly enough. “Research shows that if you’re surrounded by an abundance of options, you typically end up less satisfied with your final decision than if you’d been given fewer options in the first place,” she writes. Self-blame is another downside.

“Too much choice can lead to unwarranted self-blame,” Krackow writes. “In Starbucks, a coffee lover’s paradise, being dissatisfied with your drink can only mean one thing: You made the wrong choice. With all of the amazing options at your disposal, you somehow managed to mess up the order and are now left sipping what tastes like dishwater. Nobody else to blame but you. Choice overload can leave you frustrated with the decision process, dissatisfied with the outcome, and disappointed with yourself.”

Too little choice is no more desirable than too much choice, but some balance in a world prone to bloatware, complexity and overkill is definitely in order!

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