The problem is Choice

The Tyranny of Choice: Barry Schwartz

Excerpts:

In a classic demonstration of the power of sunk costs, people were offered season subscriptions to a local theater company. Some were offered the tickets at full price and others at a discount. Then the researchers simply kept track of how often the ticket purchasers actually attended the plays over the course of the season. Fullprice payers were more likely to show up at performances than discount payers. The reason for this, the investigators argued, was that the full-price payers would experience more regret if they did not use the tickets because not using the more costly tickets would constitute a bigger loss.

and

Alex C. Michalos of the University of Northern British Columbia has pointed out that all our evaluations of the things we do and buy depend on comparison — to past experiences, to what we were hoping for, and to what we expected. When we say that some experience was good, what we mean, in part, is that it was better than we expected it to be. So high expectations almost guarantee that experiences will fall short, especially for maximizers and especially when regret, opportunity costs, and adaptation do not factor into our expectations.

Addendum: For those of who prefer the visual, auditory, dynamic socratic method – Barry Schwartz’s TED talk

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26 comments
  1. Justuju said:

    Good research. I remember when I first came to US and went to a super market and the just the choices for toothpastes alone made my head spin and gave up on comparing after a while. The same phenomenon repeated after I started paying attention to nutrition labels. Choices do make us confused even if you are the good enough type. The point about expectations is even more important to remember and look out for.

  2. Nice post, good evaluation. Yes, too much choices lead to stress and in the same manner too many expectations lead to stress. But how to avoid these?

    Choices are available to us more freely than ever! (thanks to living in the US!) . Should we turn into nomads living just on what nature has to offer to minimize it? But that isnt the doctrine for leading life. We need to live, amongst choices, its upto our discretion to ignore or stop the comparison. To ignore is tough but can be mastered. Concentration helps, focus on what you need, its available, and you will get it, then you wont be bothered about the rest.

    Expectations arise from being human, social, from being surrounded by love, togetherness, loyalty, faithfulness. In a nutshell, all these virtues could lead to heightened expectations that, when uncontrolled, can cause severe damage. How can that be? So, should we stop being lovable, social, loyal, faithful? I guess neither. We need to stop weighing these virtues. We need to stop deriving the attachment to people and things that bring out these virtues. The more we let these float in the air, as they come and go, the more we are aloof from them, they wont bother us beyond a certain extent. Again, this is tough to control, but can be mastered with continuous adoption of techniques that help us focus and concentrate on us being mortal souls, we own nothing and nothing is forever, so lets just enjoy while its there and then let it go. Lets not attach ourselves to the goodness we receive. Lets just be givers and expect nothing to be given back to us.

    • Interesting thoughts wordsfromyonder. You do seem to think that eastern spirituality is the answer to most world ills. I do like eastern philosophical ideas, but I do not think they work everywhere and for everyone, and as a all-in-one tool (i.e. other tools are necessary as well).

      • Yes, I totally agree that spirituality might not be the solution for most people. It takes considerable thought to tread that path and adopt it for most as it seems to predict a way of life that stands apart from the so-called “norms/standards” of life (i dont necessarily think thats true). But its definitely the least expensive solution or i might refer it to “a way of life” that gives me (atleast) the most bliss in most situations.

  3. Shreesh said:

    I first ran across this concept when I was studying Sartre. His arguments can be generalized as “Freedom leads to anguish”, and we can see freedom and choice are highly related entities. If you don’t have choice then you don’t have the freedom to express who you are. But as soon as you do you also have the possibility of making the “wrong” choice, which leads to anguish.

    Its the classic red pill, blue pill scenario. Stay blissfully ignorant of your options or fret selecting between them. This is why Sartre refers to freedom as “monstrous”.

  4. sklmno said:

    I have couple comments /questions –

    Unawoken

    I guess it is the illusion of power that unlimited choice gives that runs a huge capitalist economy as the US and leads to the creation of what i describe as a “happy! well-fed! slave state” (Barry just knocked off the ” happy ” with a couple of
    emotion-choice plots that does not require such extensive research to guess- ) but gives socio-economists a “high”

    and Barry is asking american people to turn BIT socialist in thinking and live in just a slave state by living with minimal choices and/or not letting choices overwhelm them

    so i am curious if it is really the number of choices and how does one find out if reducing choices will work for people in america . what is its only a matter of time spent on wrong choice that negatively correlates with positive emotions-

    If the negative emotion ends up being independent of number of choices and only dependent on time taken by maximizers to arrive at the decision , what if the maximizers still agonized over the same amount of time over 5 things as they did 50 due to force of habit

    – Barry does not have a scenario on his graph where he plots emotions against inceasing minimal constant choices. he assumes number of choices to be high and increasing in all his scenarios . I would have liked to see a plot where he plotted emotions versus increasing constant minimal choices. Curious if he could not have found this scenario in any commodity anywhere in the US and tested it on maximisers. will the emotion be at 0? they will still be negative or postitive. If would have been interesting to see how the US maximisers emotions played out in the curve of increasing minimal choices.

    -He talks about the maximizers and the satisfiers – but does not limit the choices available to the two groups. so pretty much both maximisers and satisfiers (LOL) react to the same number of choices.(Positive emotion flattening with increasing choice is not surprising at all- at some point boredom with number of choices will replace the happiness when one is given choices.) Would have liked to see a third category of people called complacent who are indifferent to choices- kinda difficult to categorize I guess but his definition for satisfiers is vague

    Nice post

    • unawoken said:

      sklmno, welcome back to my blog 🙂

      First, nice comment 🙂

      “with a couple of
      emotion-choice plots that does not require such extensive research to guess- ) but gives socio-economists a “high””

      — I like the jab 🙂

      “its only a matter of time spent on wrong choice that negatively correlates with positive emotions-

      If the negative emotion ends up being independent of number of choices and only dependent on time taken by maximizers to arrive at the decision , what if the maximizers still agonized over the same amount of time over 5 things as they did 50 due to force of habit ”

      — sklmno, One of the points he made was that it not only takes long to make the best choice when there are a lot of choices, but also the following:
      1. When there are a lot of choices, there is a very high likelyhood that you do not make the “best” choice, since there are so many things to consider
      2. the closest competing choices are so much likelier to be good (coupled with the attrition of joy after the “newness” of the decision wears off)

      These two make people rue their choice more in the high # choice case (especially for maximisers).

      Consider the shopping experience. People check out various products, imagine using them, compare/simulate how pleasurable/useful they are, and then pick one or two according to their budget. Now, it is so common to hear things like “I eventually ended up buying the blue dress, but I loved the red dress. It was the best, but I already had a closer shade” and so on. This basically makes one feel not so elated about the fantastic blue dress; which would have been the case if their were no awesome red dress.

      “Barry does not have a scenario on his graph where he plots emotions against inceasing minimal constant choices.”

      — Hi sklmno, I did not follow your last two paragraphs, because I did not understand what you meant by “minimal constant choices”. Can you please elaborate?

      — Regarding the terminology of “maximisers and satisficers”, I think (I may be wrong), he is borrowing the terminology from Constraint Programming. In CP, a maximiser is one (that program) that seeks the maximum value of an objective, while satisfying a set of constraints. a satisficer is one that seeks only to satisfy a set of constraints.

  5. sklmno said:

    Unawoken
    The answers first and then I have a few more comments and many more questions– after reading the paper a second time and thinking about it some more.
    Please comment if you find some serious cracks in my comments/interpretations, including and especially from math, logic or statistics POV – 🙂 it is important for me to understand that side of this subject. I may take some definitions more qualitatively and end up quite lost

    Increasing Minimal constant choices- This sounds awful- I have no excuses except getting carried away by fancy socio-eco lingo and making up my own.

    What I meant to say when I used this term was plotting emotions against a fixed number of choices . Then increasing the choices from 0 to this constant. And you decrease this constant and once again and do the same. Easier if I could draw.

    So in the end you will get number of emotion-choice plots for a certain commodity. But you will still be plotting emotions as choice increases from 1) 0 to say 50 and 2) 0 to 25, 3)0 to 10.

    This can be done on a commodity in America where you have differences is the number of available choices and also a difference in number of choices a single person may look at .

    An example would be motels in the US. There are enough differences in number of choices and enough differences in the subset people look at. Satisfaction with the choice made could be related to the emotion in this case.

    How will this help?
    It may help understand in greater detail how much of this “unhappiness is the effect of the “Gross number of choices” because I do not think it is entirely dependent on the gross number. And it may be important to address the other factors related and closely attached to choice in order to propose practical “reforms” which is what I assume the socio-economist wants at the end of an elite study.

    On that note I have a huge issue with welfare/social economists because they are always making fancy plots that UN uses to figure out where in developing countries poverty and social reform needs to happen. Why not give enough ammunition for the UN to set up and advocate a similar consumer reform in the US. I guess over indulgence does not kill anyone fast enough or close enough to home, so it does not require any reform. In that respect, I really liked and enjoyed the above paper. Very apt for the day.
    ———————————————————————————————-
    – sklmno, One of the points he made was that it not only takes long to make the best choice when there are a lot of choices, but also the following:
    1. When there are a lot of choices, there is a very high likelyhood that you do not make the “best” choice, since there are so many things to consider
    2. the closest competing choices are so much likelier to be good (coupled with the attrition of joy after the “newness” of the decision wears off)
    ————————————————————————————————-
    Unawoken – I agree – When there are a lot choices (50 motels) there is a very high probability of making the wrong choice.
    However when choices are limited (3 motels ) there is a very low probability of making a wrong choice .
    So if a person made a wrong choice in this low probability scenario, won’t he feel more disappointed than in the high probability 50 motel
    Scenario. “I had 3 choices and I goofed up feels worse than I had 50 choices and goofed up.
    So In this case the unhappiness in the 50 motel scenario may be due to time spent on the choice (if the person is aware of the fact that he had 50 motels to choose from and it is a hard call) and the unhappiness in the 3 motel scenario is from the number of choices he had – and the wrong pick from few choices.

    So this is where I think that there are a few added /important factors to this choice- emotion plot , namely the difference in numbers of the quality of choices and the affordability of the choices.

    If there are a large number of mediocre choices, I think the maximiser could be depressed because of the time he spent and ended up making a wrong choice

    <<>>

    —————————————————————————————————
    “(coupled with the attrition of joy after the “newness” of the decision wears off)”
    ————————————————————————————————-
    On that note. I was first surprised that the negative emotion never flattened out – I thought it should at some point with increasing choices. But I guess after reading the paper again , I realized he was only making the point that negative emotions worsened while positive flattened- implying the plateau for neg emotion was outside the graph somewhere.

    • unawoken said:

      sklmno, I am off to burning man for the rest of this week. Will respond to your comment when I am back. Thanks for getting back, and please post away anything you may wanna say as you indicate below…

    • unawoken said:

      sklmno,
      Firstly, thanks very much for taking my post seriously and spending a lot of energy responding. You have covered several points, and I will have to read and reply slowly to cover all points.

      I think I still do not understand some of your points.

      : “What I meant to say when I used this term was plotting emotions against a fixed number of choices . Then increasing the choices from 0 to this constant. And you decrease this constant and once again and do the same. Easier if I could draw.

      So in the end you will get number of emotion-choice plots for a certain commodity. But you will still be plotting emotions as choice increases from 1) 0 to say 50 and 2) 0 to 25, 3)0 to 10.”

      — The 0-to-10 part of the plot would be the same in the 0-25 case, and in the 0-50 case, wouldn’t it? It seems to me that the 0-25 plot and the 0-10 plot are contained in the 0-50 plot, so I am not sure what you are getting at…

      “I do not think it is entirely dependent on the gross number.”

      — I think by that you mean that after a certain number of choices, it is just a deluge, and even more number of choices does not matter any more. This, I agree with. I go to this Thai restaurant that has a menu literally strewn with around 200 dishes. The dishes even have keys such as C30, with a look-up on how dishes C30 – C36 may substitute tofu for chicken, and so on. So most ordering goes like you pick some dish randomly and look around its neighbors, and decide. That is it. (to add to the above, the dish-names are in thai, with a list of ingredients in english, with at least 5 ingredients described in each dish.)

      I think simply, after a certain gross number, additional choices will stop having any effect at all, to which I agree…

      “Why not give enough ammunition for the UN to set up and advocate a similar consumer reform in the US.”

      — yep, this is very true. However, the reasons for this is all too clear. Unless there is a dire need to reconsider our lifestyles, people will not do it, and for developed countries, this dire need arrives last…

      “However when choices are limited (3 motels ) there is a very low probability of making a wrong choice .
      So if a person made a wrong choice in this low probability scenario, won’t he feel more disappointed than in the high probability 50 motel
      Scenario”

      — indeed. Yet, the chances one makes a poor choice (or feels bad about one’s choice) is low for the low choice case. For low choices, the distribution of perceived utility of the choice is like this:
      *a *b c*

      In the above case, it is unlikely one picks choice “b” by suboptimal choosing.

      For high choice case, the distribution of perceived utility is more like this:
      ********** ************* ************************* ******************** ******************
      ……………………………………………………………………………………..abcdefghijkm

      (I have glossed over the low utility choices) However, here, the likelihood of picking “j” or “k” over the “best” choice “m” is very high since it is lumped closely around other high utility choices, and since one has to spend a lot of energy in determining “m” is the best choice among so many good candidates.

      “mediocre choices”

      — I think the market responds to the consumer demand. In this case, I think mediocre is subjective. The market is segmented according to affordability, and true, this segmentation needs to be clearly communicated, otherwise a high-segmentation consumer may waste their energy separating their candidates from the lower segments.

      ” implying the plateau for neg emotion was outside the graph somewhere.”

      — right. After a large number has been reached, both negative and positive emotions flatten out, this is because there is only so much emotion, and also because human capacity to understand and evaluate choices is limited.

  6. sklmno said:

    I have a few comments on this quality of choices/affordability and how it could relate to emotion/ number of choices that I already thought about and will post them if you are interested and you think it will add value to the discussion. Iam okay eitherways-

  7. sklmno said:

    UA

    I could have said this in fewer words but instead I chose to post all my thoughts- for the reader who finds this way too descriptive, I have highlighted the key points in “****” so one has choice to bypass the story telling riff raff . any limit on words- ☺ I guess I will find out .

    ***** I think the answer is not anything earth shattering or unknown to anyone. We simply need to increase the probability of making the right choice by creating many right choices. This will also lead people to slowly become indifferent to “number of choices” and become less stressed. Agreed that the number also needs to be reduced, but they may automatically reduce when the indifference happens. This would have to be an environment of “optimal number of affordable creative choices” – No choices and less choices is not the only answer. There is no difference between 2 similar mediocre choices and 200 similar medicocre choices- I think it is the mediocre riff raff that drives the humans into depression. *****

    To elaborate on this-

    -When choosing a certain mango out of 50 varieties, most human minds will be quite happy whichever it chooses because all the mangoes carry their unique flavor and identity . Being unhappy, be it from a single choice out of 3 varieties or 50 varieties is less probable because the happiness value comes from the mango and not from which kind you chose or how you chose. Yes there are still many choices, there could be some unhappiness related to not getting a certain flavor but u still are relatively very happy with what you got. Choice is very inherent in nature. Nature gives hundreds and thousands of choices to everything in the animal kingdom. Going back to nature is not going to make one choiceless (comment in one of the spritual takes on this subject) , its going to help one appreciate creative choices.

    -Similarly if I take the typical suburban housing option, whether one looks at 100 different houses or 5 that offer a choice difference of square footage, culdesac/corner/middle and two car garage/3 car garage, game room/no gameroom – yes these are options– one gets same amount of unhappiness with choice. Because there is no creative element in the choices

    – If we now take 5 US sandwich places all serving medicocre chain restaurant quality garbage. Making a choice is going to be very difficult between 5 similar mediocre choices. But if iam in NYC, even though Iam overwhelmed with the choice of many good affordable restaurants , I would still not be depressed as much because it will be a pleasure to try and find some nice place. The few times I make a wrong choice , iam still okay with it because I now identify with the (exploring creative food options) rather than “oh! I may made a wrong choice or right choice.

    I think this goes for the average maximiser and the satisficer as they only differ in the way they make choices; they both have to live with the choice. This is where I think it is not just the number. And the people who are more distressed belong to a certain “class “ of society.

    ****I think creative choices are a pleasure to scope and look into. Yes the 10% of maximisers would probably agonise but that’s a characteristic inherent in them and I think the 30% of over 4.5’s are created by excessive exposure to mediocre choices and hence really need to be sent to therapy with the consumer reform money set aside for this by the government.*****

    *****So now to the affordability of creative choices- sadly most creative choices are few and far between and out of the affordability range of the average slave class citizen in the US.*****
    (Slave class= 30,0000 to 100,000 income families. In fact even the rich contribute to the slave class economic choices. )

    And this is what has created a depressed class of people constantly wondering why they are not happy with their choice- maximisers spend tons of time comparing prices and other irrelavent things and the satisficer probably gives up because he does not have the patience and has better things to do, like go hunting for the next thing to buy. .

    ****Barry suggested that US people had to live with fewer choices, say no to lot of choices , change lifestyle. He has made his case but I think he left out a very important point of the affordability range of choices and how creative these choices are. Barry did not address this. And he did not address the lack of affordability of creative choices to bulk of middle class population. I think it affects the well-off much less except if they are maximizers. eg well-off people choose form 10 different creative B&B’s ; slave class chooses from motel 6 super 8, motor inn, BW, La Quinta … ****

    So everytime I bring this up in any discussion, the answer I am given is its expensive to be creative. I think this is hogwash even the smallest of human effort can be made creative if we thought about it . one does not need to have a Da vinci hanging on a Motel6 wall to make it welcoming and appealing .

    Currently anything in the US that is made with a creative/thought element in it (food, clothes, electronics) is a hell lot expensive. And it has tons and tons of mediocre choices ready and available to a middle class . So not only has this created a depressed US middle class, it has also created a similar middle class state in the supplier chinawhich takes the responsibility of catering to this demand. There is no telling who is the parasite and who the host- lets call it a symbiotic death of human talent and taste on both sides.

    *****So my take is measures need to be taken to make affordable choices consumed by the middle class need to be made more appealing/creative. How?

    – Give more incentives to small businesses. Encourage people to be able to do this by removing the health care system out of the insurance shark’s mouth and help the small enterprenaur to be able to hire people at a low cost .
    – Make sure the chains have some stringent rules for making their items less mediocre; they have already minted a lot of money from the slave class’s unhappiness with their buys and by repeatedly making them head back to the store to make another choice
    – Start using higher amounts of human talent instead of human labor- is this a step back- ofcourse not- we are the ones that created the machines to automate and simplify but in the process , somewhere down the line forget the fundamental aspect of the human innovation/nature/ touch that gives happiness *****
    – Give incentives for novelty

    This can only happen over time but I think it is a necessary move-

    Sadly this rampant human consumerism of the US has spread to other places as well, so my ability to look for the silver lining has stopped. I only hope this will turn over by itself due to collapse of many of the big ticket companies supplying these immense quantities of cloned products and American people reevolve themselves (some blood will be as usual spilled in a few developing countries) . Or it is possible this “ consumer depression” needs to happen for the next level of human innovation.

    • unawoken said:

      sklmno,

      “Being unhappy, be it from a single choice out of 3 varieties or 50 varieties is less probable because the happiness value comes from the mango and not from which kind you chose or how you chose.”

      — I don’t think this is true. There is quite some research on this, and people’s enjoyment of a good is directly related to such factors such as how many choices they had, how much control they had in exercising their choice, whether or not other people thought this was a good choice, the price tag, how similar or different their choice is compared to other people’s and so on. In other words, the enjoyment is a function of the mango itself, and of all of the above factors…

      “Choice is very inherent in nature. Nature gives hundreds and thousands of choices to everything in the animal kingdom.”

      — on top of that, nature also “loads” “preprogrammed heuristics” on to animal minds to look for and evaluate the various choices that are available. And happiness becomes a function of both of these -> number of choices, and the evaluation heuristics.

      “- If we now take 5 US sandwich places all serving medicocre chain restaurant quality garbage. Making a choice is going to be very difficult between 5 similar mediocre choices. But if iam in NYC, even though Iam overwhelmed with the choice of many good affordable restaurants , I would still not be depressed as much because it will be a pleasure to try and find some nice place. The few times I make a wrong choice , iam still okay with it because I now identify with the (exploring creative food options) rather than “oh! I may made a wrong choice or right choice.”

      — I think you are highlighting the joy of window-shopping. Yes, this is right. People get a lot of utility in evaluating high quality options. I think however, that if one is moving up from a middle class to an upper class choice option, then one may feel the joy of the availability of these options and some of this is because this one is comapring utility against middle-class options, and not with other upper-class options. But for the olde-riche, constant comparison with the joneses makes them less happier with the same options, methinks…

      ” think creative choices are a pleasure to scope and look into. Yes the 10% of maximisers would probably agonise but that’s a characteristic inherent in them and I think the 30% of over 4.5’s are created by excessive exposure to mediocre choices and hence really need to be sent to therapy with the consumer reform money set aside for this by the government.”

      — This is an interesting point. Yes, perhaps some of the maximisers are just way confused about how qto evaluate the choices available, and may need help like you say…

      “So my take is measures need to be taken to make affordable choices consumed by the middle class need to be made more appealing/creative. ”

      — sklmno, I read your write up until now, but I think I am not clear what you mean by “creative” choices. What does that term mean to you? I think the reason people say that creative choices need to be expensive is because I think they think “non-standardization” is built into your definition. Standardization and mass-production makes a good cheaper, but thereby the good becomes something owned by most people.

      sklmno, regarding the remaining part of your write-up, I think it is very poignant, and I am with you in rueing the lack of creativity in our lives. However, I think this is very economics & free-market driven. Everyone wants a car, any car, creative-or-not first, even when they are lower middle-class. This invariably leads to mass-standardization, and expensiveness and rarity of creativity. So while I agree with all your sentiments and strongly agree on how creativity is highly desirable and treasurable, I think real-world consumption demands will underscore movement in the noncreative direction. I think I agree with you that creativity will be(and has been) a force for innovation at the cutting edges of unraveling future trends and goods, but progressively not in everyday demand-supplies of consumables…

      i.e. I think everytime we give birth to a child like agriculture, or machinary, we become slaves to them and give up some human individuality because of wanting what the joneses have.

  8. Justuju said:

    ****Barry suggested that US people had to live with fewer choices, say no to lot of choices , change lifestyle. He has made his case but I think he left out a very important point of the affordability range of choices and how creative these choices are. Barry did not address this. And he did not address the lack of affordability of creative choices to bulk of middle class population. I think it affects the well-off much less except if they are maximizers. eg well-off people choose form 10 different creative B&B’s ; slave class chooses from motel 6 super 8, motor inn, BW, La Quinta … ****

    Sklmno, this is a good point you bring up about affordability but Barry does briefly address it towards the end. He says that income redistribution would help increase choices for people who cannot afford these products and he stresses (disclaimer) that his talk is specifically about modern affluent western societies.

    Further, I’m not clear about a couple of things you say, first, are you disagreeing with Barry when he says that more choices decrease satisfaction? I tend to think that with maximizers, his point is true. With increased expectations, satisfaction is limited and they are also always second guessing their choices.

    Secondly, if your point is that its not the number of choices but the quality of those choices that matter more, I agree with you but that goes back to the affordability and income redistribution. There are quality products out there but they are not affordable by everybody. My own take on this is that we, the consumers, can voluntarily limit our choices (turn into satificers) thereby increasing our satisfaction and save our money to buy fewer but higher quality products. By doing this, we can also force change into the manufacturing process to produce quality.

    • unawoken said:

      Justuju, I agree with all you said except this: “and save our money to buy fewer but higher quality products. By doing this, we can also force change into the manufacturing process to produce quality.”

      — I think that satisficers buy poorer quality products by definition (because to identify quality better, you have to tend to become a maximiser). Hence, if anything, by becoming satisficers, people would discourage production of very high quality products.

    • unawoken said:

      In other words, looking for higher product quality in a high-choice environment makes people unhappy. Hence, the message here is, “settle for lower quality products, and deliberately limit your choices, and forget about it, and move on!”

  9. sklmno said:

    sklmno, I read your write up until now, but I think I am not clear what you mean by “creative” choices. What does that term mean to you?

    UA

    I knew as I was writing this — that this is probabaly I was going to seriously get hammered 🙂 🙂
    How do i define an abstract concept as “creative choice”

    now iam a little stressed 🙂

  10. sklmno said:

    Justuju
    My understanding after reading the paper was more toward this -Barry mentions the affordability link before the conclusions but he has not addressed it as a unique entity in his study. Maybe this is my interpretation of his write-up; will have to read the paper again and verify your points. Thanks for the note.

    I do agree with Barry that more choices (especially similar choices) is a problem . No doubt; If this did not come across in my writing, iam saying it here. However the question I have is- ” is simply reducing choices without further understanding what causes the”unhappiness” and understanding in greater detail how the maximiser , satsficer, complacenter and average human respond to different numbers of choices going to help us bring about ways to address this problem? It was a rhetorical question.

    I do agree three quarters of the way with your last statement on minimalistic living with good quality things that satisfy ones tastes within a certain affordability range. However , you don’t necessarily have to become a satisficer to be this- Infact maximisers are very necessary in this scenario and will actually be a help to the rest- 🙂

    Thanks for bringing up some very valid points

  11. sklmno said:

    UA – I have only addressed some key things-
    I think I still do not understand some of your points.
    — The 0-to-10 part of the plot would be the same in the 0-25 case, and in the 0-50 case, wouldn’t it? It seems to me that the 0-25 plot and the 0-10 plot are contained in the 0-50 plot, so I am not sure what you are getting at…
    ————————————————————————————-
    Apologise for the lack of clarity-
    The choices are not from same superset- if they ar,e then 0-50 , 0-25, 0-10 etc will be part of the 0-50 plot – so I will use the motel example-
    Say I look at emotion choice plots for
    Motels in chicago downtown , Motels in Vail, colorado, Motels in Green river, Utah. Now your supersets are different in terms of numbers , distribution of quality and affordability (eg Vail will have 20 B&B’s 5 motels , 5 intermediate (30) hotels Green river will have 3 motels, 1 B&B and 1 intermediate hotel (5), Chicago downtown will have 20 B&B’s , 40, intermediate hotels and 20 motels (80).

    I just think it will be an interesting experiment to understand role of other things besides gross- numbers on emotions . If the plot looks the close enough for many different places, that may make one sit back and wonder about role of gross choices.

    This could actually show different results for different products. Maybe this cannot be done statistically- I don’t know as I am not an economist; but something that occurred in my mind as a possibility when I say the emotion choice plot based on gross numbers-. Hope it is clear now.

    ————————————————————————————————–
    Thanks much for pointing out the logic of low levels of happiness in 3 choice vs 50 .
    Okay- What you say/explained makes sense- in a probablistic way
    This brings another interesting point – I do think only the maximiser has low probability of making the wrong choice in low choice scenario (since he is scoping all choices out) Now The satisficer may end up compromising good enough and end up being more unhappy (in low choice scenario)- On that note Barry’s focus may be bit biased toward maximiser.

    “Choice is very inherent in nature. Nature gives hundreds and thousands of choices to everything in the animal kingdom.”
    “on top of that, nature also “loads” “preprogrammed heuristics” on to animal minds”

    ————————————————————————————————-
    Very nice and very important – I agree and it adds more meaning to my sentence-

    It is quite a feat for consumer products to reach this level of innovation .

    —————————————————————————————————

    — I think you are highlighting the joy of window-shopping.

    No Iam not highlighting the joy of window shopping- Iam trying to understand what may make people more happy with a certain choice and extend their happiness levels and help them not run back to the shop . and it may not just be the high cost option- (sad that many of the high quality non standardised stuff is high cost) iam wondering if we can create enough differences in products to set them apart , then maybe the more mundane choices likt 20 different ways to switch on the TV or 5 different speeds on the hairdryer would cease to matter. Maybe it won’t and Iam in nonexistent fantasy land.

    ———————————————————————————————————
    Creative choice- What does it mean to you?

    If I want to take a stab at the economics definition – Creative choices are those whose
    emotion choice plot will be steeper and plateau at lower number of choices than regular choices. And if you plot the emotion with time of any single choice from the set of creative choices it will hold high/steady longer
    Thereby a creative choice
    Does not make you run back to the store
    Does not give you unhappiness even before owning (thanks to comparisons)
    Makes you feel very happy and satisfied happy with buy for longer periods of time

    Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha at myself on above definition

    Creative choices exist but they exist in the mind – and there are probably as many creative choices as there are people. So who am I kidding here?

    Anyways—I do see some creative choices out there- Many european cars fall in category of creative choice. People like to hold on to their volvos and BMW’s and see them age
    B&W speakers are another.. the price range starts form about 800 plus to almost $50,000 the 800 range one is as well made as the 50,000$ one.

    But I do agree in the economics and free-market driven world—it is real world consumption that drives all this. So by no means can we remove existence of standardized products completely (20 different kinds of detergent etc etc unless stringernt measures are taken toward almost socialistic ideas) not sure if that’s the way forward.
    And more than anything- there is the element of human need and greed that drives consumer economics .

    Thanks for patiently listening to me and addressing my comments- was interesting

    • unawoken said:

      sklmno,

      I will respond to the rest of your comments offline, since it may need some more thought from me. Regarding this part though

      “Now The satisficer may end up compromising good enough and end up being more unhappy (in low choice scenario)- On that note Barry’s focus may be bit biased toward maximiser”

      — On this, I think the point was that satisficers do not care that much about getting the best product, and choosing the second best doesn’t really bother them much. Their happiness derives from meeting the basic requirements they were after…

  12. Deepa R said:

    I thought about this when I was at IBM some years ago. They have a 360 feedback and eventually your manager assigns you one of 3 possible grades. Met expectations/exceeded expectations/didn’t meet expectations. My 1st question to my manager was, exceeded expectations could happen even if I did terrible work, but you expected even worse from me, right? He got a little mad.

    Deepa

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