August 2

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Paradox of Choice

By Glasco Taylor

August 2, 2021


The History of Consumer Choice

The paradox of choice, 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, potentially hurting their well-being in the process.

The theory of the paradox of choice as it relates to decision making has been tested and analyzed in many different ways over the years. Perhaps the most popular experiment, when it comes to business, involves samples of jam at a supermarket.

The Grocery Store Jam Test

In this experiment, researchers arranged free samples of a brand of jam and asked people to try different flavors. And the focus is to give choice overload. In one scenario, there were 6 different varieties. And in the other, there were 24.

Traditional thinking would have you believe that more options are better because consumers can pick the one that best fits their needs. However, the results of the study showed something else happened entirely. Although more people tried the jam when they were presented with 24 options vs. 6, much fewer ended up buying the product. Clearly too much choice. Fewer options are optimal for inducing the customer to choose anything.

And so the paradox of choice theory tells us that there is a point at which offers too many options makes it difficult to make a decision and that consumers may not make a decision at all as a way of coping.

Conclusion and Final Results

More choices are bad for your website.

Actionable Outcome of Shwartz's Test

One page, one choice. The only exception is the home page.

Glasco Taylor

About the author

I am an engineer and work in the data center. However, my true passion has become to monetize statistical data from a website.

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