Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Less is more - and more is less

We intuitively know this is true, but logic tells us something different. Surely having 2 choices is better than none and therefore 3 is better again?

Just watched a presentation called The Paradox of Choice - Why More Is Less by Barry Swartz. Barry tells the story of how he had bought jeans for years from a store where there was only one type of jeans. They never fitted very well and he had to wear them in and then wore them for as long as possible to avoid having to avoid the wearing in process. Recently, when he went back to buy a new pair, he was asked what kind of jeans he wanted? Easy fit, straight fit, poppers, zippers, boot cut etc etc etc. Barry tried on many many pairs of jeans and eventually left with a pair that fitted him far better than any previous pair, but was Barry happy with his choice?

No, and why? Does any of this feel familiar:
- his expectations had been raised by the plethora of choices, there must be the perfect pair amongst so many.
- but how does he know he has the best pair, maybe the better pair were left behind?
- if so, it must be my fault because the jeans companies have done their best to give me the perfect pair for me.

Barry had better jeans but was less satisfied. More is less.

Highly recommend reading: http://www.swarthmore.edu/SocSci/bschwar1/Choice%20Chapter.Revised.pdf
or viewing: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6127548813950043200&q=engedu

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