You walk into restaurant look through the menu at more than hundred dishes, but after 20 minutes you order what had the day before and walk out. The next morning you wake up and look through your closet, which contains more than 500 different combinations of outfits, then you wear whatever you usually wear and walk out.

The list goes on. Most of us have experienced similar situations. So what is really happening? Why do we follow the same patterns every day?

We used to think that the more choices we have, the better decision we would make. But our mind strongly disagrees with us. When exposed to a lot of options our mind goes into a state of paralysis, unable to decide what to do. Our mind searches for safe options and the safest one is sticking to constant.

paradox-of-choice-jam-experiment

 

The most famous experiment connected with this topic is the “Jam Study.” Participants were asked to purchase jam — some were offered a range of six varieties while others had a selection of 24. The result was expected, but fascinating: The participants who were offered six jams made more purchases than the ones who had 24 jams to choose from.

How can we use this information in different tasks and overall throughout our lives?

First let’s talk about types of buyers. Consumers are generally divided into two groups: maximizers and satisfiers. Most people are satisfiers, they would pick whatever comes first if they believe the product/service would satisfy their needs. On the other hand, maximizers are looking for the best product out there. They are the ones who dedicate time and effort to choose things. So, next time you sell or buy a product keep this information in mind.

paradox-of-choice-live-polling

So, what to do if you are a maximizer and are having a hard time making a decision? Generally, there are two ways to go about it: If you are indifferent about the result, don’t waste time worrying about it, just pick something. Think about Steve Jobs: He wore the same black turtleneck every day. He was indifferent about clothes, so he didn’t waste a single minute to think about what to wear.

Try focusing your energy on the things that matter, rather than overthinking what to have for breakfast. We think of our mind as an engine with limitless resources, but, those resources are very scarce, and if we choose to think about what coffee to get for two hours, after we wouldn’t have enough brain power left for other tasks.

Here are some examples of simplifying decision making for you and for others.

 

1. Polling 

No matter if you are in college, doing internship in company or working a full-time job, at one point you would have to engage with audience to accomplish certain goals (receiving feedback, asking questions, researching, and collecting data). There are a lot of ways to do that: presentations, polls, and surveys. I would be talking about text polling. Use Swift Polling to get feedback or survey people. Swift Polling is easy for you and your voters, so the results are engaging and effective. Your audience can vote online or by text message. Then use what you have learned about the paradox of choice to create options for your question. Remember to keep it as simple as possible. It is suggested to have no more than five options. If you need more than five options, then make two polls.

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2. Gift-selection

Another scenario that you would be faced with is buying a gift. Instead of going to a store, people now shop online. While it might seem to save time, once you go to Amazon.com you are faced with more than a million products in various sections. Main question that goes through mind when choosing a gift is: What to pick so the person likes it. What you need to realize at that moment, not to stress out further is that giving a gift from heart and sincerely is what matters. Do not waste your energy figuring out a perfect gift, because there is no such a thing. Just pick the first thing that you think is appropriate and that she/he would like, after all that is not the last chance that you would ever get to make a gift. If you are still hesitant as of which one to choose, just do it randomly and leave the other choice for next opportunity.

3. Picking a vacation destination

paradox-of-choice-choosing-a-destination

Lastly, I want to talk about vacations. There are so many places and wonders to see around the world. Picking where to take a vacation can be exhausting and hard, but not anymore. Here are the questions you need to answer to figure out where to go: How much time you have, budget, needs, safety and desires. Once you go through all those steps and figure out several destinations, compare those destinations to your initial reason for taking a vacation. This might be enough to come up with the best place to spend your vacation. For those who are feeling extra adventurous, Forbes published an article about choosing vacation destinations based on your personality type.

These are just three scenarios connected with paradox of choice. Let us know in the comment section below how you have faced with paradox of choice.

 

 

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