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Why too much choice is stressing us out

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/oct/21/choice-stressing-us-out-dating-partners-monopolies

theguardian.com

Why too much choice is stressing us out
Once upon a time in Springfield, the Simpson family visited a new supermarket. Monstromart's slogan was "where shopping is a baffling ordeal". Product choice was unlimited, shelving reached the ceiling, nutmeg came in 12lb boxes and the express checkout had a sign reading, "1,000 items or less".

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Endless choice leads to inertia

Very few of us feel competent enough to choose between an overwhelming amount of options. When you are offered 156 different kinds of retirement plans, for instance, it can make you miserable to make a competent choice.  For that reason, it might be easier not to make a choice.

But even if we do make a choice, we can end up less satisfied. It is easy to imagine that you might have missed an attractive alternative.

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Areas with increased choices

  • With too many options, people increasingly rely on recommendation engines to help them cope with choice.
  • We pay more for the same stuff. To watch the good things on TV now involves paying monthly subscriptions to many services, where once you only had to pay a TV license. 
  • Privatization of companies leads to many companies offering the same service - but we still feel that we are possibly paying too much.
  • Education becomes a consumer good.

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The ideology of choice

The ideology of choice makes us forget that not all things should be bought and sold. Moreover, more choice does not increase our happiness, security, and contentment. It does leave us overwhelmed and anxious so that we often turn to denial and willful blindness.

At least we are thinking about choice and do not merely follow the whims of the market.

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

We all make bad decisions

While we may not like to admit this, we all are making a lot of bad decisions, be it our personal lives, careers or in our jobs. Here is what research says about making good decisions:

The right information, not more

If there is too much information, we tend to make the wrong decision, and even if our decision is well-researched and considered right, we end up dissatisfied. 

The right information, even if less, provides clarity to make the right decision.

Gut feelings vs logic

A gut feeling, or an instinct, is often the right path, and points towards the right decision.

Ultra-rational, logical and unemotional decision-making does not guarantee that the decision taken will be the right one.

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The Freedom of Choice

The freedom of choice is generally perceived to be good, but studies show that too much choice can be a hindrance and can impede the decision.

On the contrary, having fewer choices has shown ...

Fear of Better Options

... or Maximization, is a behavioral trait that makes us look for all possible options before we decide so that we don't miss out on the best option and regret later, after making the decision.

We take into consideration all available options to minimize our frustration and stress.

Maximizers vs Satisficers

  • Maximizers feel less satisfied even if they make better decisions, since they had so much choice, and choosing the best comes down to some sort of compromise.
  • Satisficers: They are the people that make quick decisions with fewer options and that tend to be more satisfied.

FOMO Comes From Unhappiness

You’re not feeling so great — whether you realize it or not — and you turn to social media to make you feel better. Only one problem there: it actually makes you feel worse…

The Facebook Illusion

We all know that Facebook doesn’t provide a very well-rounded picture of people’s lives. It’s more like the cherry-picked perfection version.

People with FOMO have ambivalent feelings toward Facebook. It brings them up when they post about their own carefully edited version of life awesomeness, and slams them back down when they feel they have to compete with other people's lifestyle awesomeness - especially when they're feeling a little down or anxious themselves.

The Problem Is Attention

Looking at social media for happiness is a bad idea. You won’t find it out there. Your happiness is determined by how you allocate your attention. What you attend to drives your behavior and it determines your happiness. 

Changing behavior and enhancing happiness is as much about withdrawing attention from the negative as it is about attending to the positive.