The paradox of the paradox of choice

The paradox of the paradox of choice

Ten years ago, conventional wisdom suggested that more choice was bad. Now, it seems that the opposite is true:

[A] more fundamental objection to the “choice is bad” thesis is that the psychological effect may not actually exist at all. It is hard to find much evidence that retailers are ferociously simplifying their offerings in an effort to boost sales. Starbucks boasts about its “87,000 drink combinations”; supermarkets are packed with options. This suggests that “choice demotivates” is not a universal human truth, but an effect that emerges under special circumstances.

Researchers designed experiments to determine when choice demotivates:

[A] curious thing happened almost immediately. They began by trying to replicate some classic experiments – such as the jam study, and a similar one with luxury chocolates. They couldn’t find any sign of the “choice is bad” effect. Neither the original Lepper-Iyengar experiments nor the new study appears to be at fault: the results are just different and we don’t know why.

And so:

The average of all these studies suggests that offering lots of extra choices seems to make no important difference either way.

Ten years later: no important difference.

This vaguely reminds me of what Mark Liberman referred to as Steven Johnson’s “plot plots” and the investigation on complexity in storylines way back in 2005. Maybe we’re just getting used to The Sopranos.