THE PARADOX OF CHOICE
Book by Barry Schwartz
→Helpful tool to help customers take desitions←
The Paradox of Choice is an excellent tool for designers and store developers to help customers make fast and easy desitions when faced with the choices offered in a shop.
Published in 2004, it´s still as current and helpful as it was back then. Psychologist Barry Schwartz wrote this book to provide us with insights about the relation between welfare, freedom, and choice. He claims that in today`s western industrial societies there is an official dogma that praises: “Welfare increases with freedom by maximizing choice.” When people have more choices, they can better showcase their identity and feel autonomous. In this case, the formula should be something like this:
+choice = +freedom
+freedom = +wellfare
Analyzing this equation leads to the question: how many choices are healthy? Because when there are too many options, choosing becomes more difficult. These are some facts to consider about the possible negative effects on offering too much:
- Too many choices might become overwhelming
- Such situations are often related to insecurity, stress, and anxiety
- Time spent deciding is time lost for happy moments
- Deciding between too many means rejecting a lot of potentially good options and this can easily lead to regret afterward
- When faced with too many choices expectations rise; if there are so many, at least one should be perfect, no?
- Too high expectations can lead to disappointment afterward, when the choice made does not match all of those preconceived ideals.
- Disappointing experiences often lead people to blame themselves and therefore promote negative feelings.
The effort of deciding may result in adverse consequences such as psychological discomfort, regret and what Schwarts calls “paralysis.” Allowing customers reach this state is dangerous to sales. When they are incapable of making decisions, it means that the store´s strategy failed and most likely they are not going to purchase anything.
Illustration by Peter C. Vay for The New Yorker.
Consequently, a right amount of choices enables people to pursue self-satisfaction and therefore happiness. The author concludes: “CHOICE IS GOOD, what has gone wrong is the amount of it.”
Be smart, keep options limited to a balance between offering self-satisfaction and keeping customer`s welfare safe. Sales will increase, customers will be happy and remember positive experiences related to the brand.
To learn more, check out the TED talk about the book: