From an article published by the Stanford Center on Longevity:
Summary: We presume that more choices allows us to get exactly what we want, making us happier. While there is no doubt that some choice is better than none, more may quickly become too much. Drawbacks include:
- Regret: More options means constantly considering the option we didn’t choose –decreasing satisfaction overall.
- Instead, learn to accept “good enough” and stop thinking about it.
- Adaptation: By becoming accustomed to whatever we’ve chosen, the availability to more options decreases our satisfaction with our choice.
- Instead, limit thinking about options foregone, and focus on the positive of the option chosen.
- Unattainable expectations: With increased options, our expectation escalates until we constantly expect to get precisely what we want. Thus anything less than perfect is disappointing, and we blame ourselves (as the decision makers) for our unhappiness.
- Instead, control expectations to a certain standard of requirements, and keep them reasonable.
The source article has a detailed analysis of what I often refer to as "first-world problems." Via Boing Boing. Photo taken at my local Target.
Largely an issue for modern, affluent Western societies, the paradox of too much choice strains consumers’ capacity for decision making. Making financial security decisions simple, easy, and justifiable may facilitate increased and happier participation.
- Paralysis: Too many options can decrease the likelihood of making any decision at all.
- Instead, limit options when decisions aren’t crucial.
Addendum: A hat tip to reader dragonmamma for providing the link to this relevant Calvin and Hobbes cartoon: