Spend an hour watching this (An hour???! Are you nuts? This is the net, 20-seconds chunks is the most we can comprehend). Anyway, spend an hour watching this:
If you read brilliantdays.com from a news reader, you may have to click through to this article, to see the video. Or use this URL:
“The Paradox of choice”.
The speech is by Barry Schwartz, and is about what Schwartz says is a significant problem in people’s life in general: Too much choice.
You have more choice than ever – which is a good thing. Or is it? Schwartz looks at some of our assumptions about choice, and it’s a real eye-opener. Highly recommended!
He talks about phone services, health care, physical appearance, romance and how to choose your salad dressing, education, workplace and lifepartner. How everything now is your choice, and if you’re unattractive it’s your fault. How you’re always on.
And how too much choice sometimes paralyse you: You can’t choose.
What to learn?
If you give customers too much choice, they don’t choose. One of the examples Schwartz uses is retirement funds. As I understand it, American employers have to save money themselves to finance their pensions (unlike other Western countries like Norway, where I live). So employers give their employees a choice of funds to put money in. But the more funds employees can choose from, the fewer will actually choose anything. For every ten more funds to choose from, 2% fewer will pick a fund.
So if you want to have your employees start saving for their pension, give them few choices.
I would guess the same applies to webpages: If the average surfer are given too much choice when coming to your site, they will simply leave. Not making any choice.
Simplify! Take away choices. Or hide them where powerusers still find them. Which make the average surfer happy – and being able to choose. And the powerusers will find what they want.
Why choice make people miserable
Four reasons, accoring to Schwartz:
1. Regret and anticipated regret
No choice is perfect. If you choose between two products, there’s a high chance you picked the right one. If there are 200, it’s very likely you picked the wrong one. Anticipated regret is that you are so sure to regret, that you don’t pick.
2. Opportunity costs
You make a choice, and find out that other choices was better in terms of costs: The other car had better mileage, the other computer had more storage etc.
3. Escalation of expectations
When you choose between loooots of products, your expactations are so much higher. If your jeans store has 80 pairs of jeans, you expect the one you chose to be perfect. But even high class products fail your expectations if your expectations are “perfect”. So you end up feeling miserable with what normally would be a good choice.
4. Self blame
When you pick the wrong product when there is only two choices, it’s the world’s fault. But when you choose between 200 products, it’s your fault. That’s what people feel, according to Schwartz. This self blame makes people feel sad.
Best or good enough?
So you try to find the perfect restaurant, perfect car, perfect phone, perfect pc, perfect girlfriend or boyfriend. In a world of unlimited choice, how do you know if you got the best? You have to examine all the possibilities. But that’s not possible. There’s unlimited choice. So you pick a selection and pick the best of those. Then it turns out that you didn’t find the perfect. But if you only had searched a little bit longer or better, you might have found it…
On the other hand: If you’re looking for something that’s good enough, you look at the choice in front of you, and think: “Is this good enough for me?”. If it is, you choose it, and you don’t look back.
This might be some of the most important things I’ve heard for a long time.. Picking what’s perfect and what’s good enough. I notice that “good enough” has a bad sound in my brain. What about you? Why? Good enough means something that holds up to your standards, so why should picking what’s good enough have a bad smell to it?
Getting your things done
Why do you feel that you don’t have enough time? Because of all the things you have to do? Why do people feel time pressure? Most people believe that it is the pressure of all the things we have to do, the mile-long todo-list.
Two groups of people were told to make lists: Group one made a list of all the things they HAD to do, all the chores etc. The other group: A list of the things they would LIKE to do. A much smaller list.
Guess which group felt the most time pressure?
The one with the LIKE to do list. All the things I would like to do, and have to make difficult choices about.
Cartoons – and the book
BTW, he refers to cartoons he shows, but these are not in the video, probably because of copyright.
Barry Schwartz has written a book about this too, The Paradox of Choice : Why More Is Less.