Discover how our choices are shaped by many different forces

Our choices-both mundane and momentous-are shaped by many different forces, visible and invisible.

The value of choice depends on our ability to perceive differences between the options. A number of studies have shown that when you give people 10 or more options when they're making a choice, they make poorer decisions, whether it be health care, investment, other critical areas. Yet still, many of us believe that we should make all our own choices and seek out even more of them.

"All humans share a basic need and desire for choice, we don't all see choice in the same places or to the same extent. When someone can't see how one choiceis unlike another, or when there are too many choices to compare and contrast, the process of choosing can be confusing and frustrating. Instead of making better choices, we become overwhelmed by choice,sometimes even afraid of it. Choice no longer offers opportunities, but imposes constraints. It's not a marker of liberation, but of suffocation by meaningless minutiae. In other words, choice can develop into the very opposite of everything it represents in America when it is thrust upon those who are insufficiently prepared for it. But it is not only other people in other places that are feeling the pressure of ever-increasing choice. Americans themselves are discovering that unlimited choice seems more attractive in theory than in practice.".... According to  Sheena Iyengar, The author of  The art of choosing 

How to make choosing easier

Previous studies have demonstrated that a multitude of options can lead to choice overload, reducing decision quality. Research also shows that an excess of choices often leads us to be less, not more, satisfied once we actually decide. As the number of options increases, the costs, in time and effort, of gathering the information needed to make a good choice also increase. The level of certainty we have about our choice decreases. And the anticipation that we will regret their choice increases.

Most people are instinctively attracted toward situations where a large number of choices are available, as more choices are often associated with more control over our decisions. The reality, however, is that psychological studies have shown that people encounter difficulty objectively evaluating different options when they have more than about 7 different choices. Evaluating too many options can be so mentally taxing that people will often become overwhelmed and decide to forego making a decision altogether, a phenomenon known as analysis paralysis. .... Proctor and Gamble saw sales increase by 10 percent when it reduced the number of Head and Shoulders shampoo varieties available from 26 to 15

Watch Sheena Iyengar demonstrates how businesses (and others) can improve the experience of choosing.......

Four techniques for mitigating the problem of choice overload

  1. cut - get rid of the extraneous alternatives; 
  2. concretize - make it real
  3. categorize - we can handle more categories, less choices; 
  4. condition for complexity. 

According to Sheena Iyengar "... all of these techniques  are designed to help you manage your choices -- better for you, you can use them on yourself, better for the people that you are serving. Because I believe that the key to getting the most from choice is to be choosy about choosing. And the more we're able to be choosy about choosing the better we will be able to practice the art of choosing."

If you are in resistance and reaction, confused, overwhelmed, or unable to make a choice, you need more information. Ask more questions. Ask “What additional information do I need to be clear about this?”

Cultural issue and gender discrepancy can damage sales

In Japan, it's attractive for a woman to have what's known as an "Ochobo" — a small mouth that one politely, and modestly, covers when open in public. This trend of having a "small and modest mouth" - has caught on to the point where it's considered rude for women to open their mouths wide in public. 

Freshness Burger found that the "Ochobo" trend was affecting sales, with their largest 'classic burger'. This classic burger had been selling like hotcakes with the male customers but not with the ladies. So Freshness Burger and Dentsu invented what they have dubbed a "Liberation Wrapper," a burger wrapper that doubles as a face mask with the picture of a woman smiling politely.

Image Credit- Freshness Burger

Image Credit- Freshness Burger


Freshness Burger reported that sales of their large Classic Burger to women have increased by 213 percent since introducing the new wrapper.

Autonomous drones (UAVs)

Andreas Raptopoulos is the CEO and a co founder of a startup called Matternet. The company introduces a new type of transportation system that uses electric autonomous flying machines (autonomous drones) to deliver medicine, food, goods and supplies wherever they are needed.  Matternet is a company at the intersection of the best technology and excellence in design..... transporting goods in cities as well as places with inefficient or nonexistent road infrastructure.

Image Credit - Matternet

Image Credit - Matternet

Andreas Raptopoulos and his team chose to do this because they believe that it can have an amazing impact. Imagine one billion people being connected to physical goods in the same way that mobile telecommunications connect them to information. In the developing world, they hope to reach millions of people with better vaccines, reach them with better medication. It would provide a huge advantage in battling HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and other epidemics. 

In cities, their cloud-based navigation system is revolutionizing transport logistics. In the developing world, Matternet drones can carry 2 kg packages such as medicine, documents, replacement parts or other critical goods for transportation.  They use three key technologies. The first is electric autonomous flying vehicles. The second is automated ground stations that the vehicles fly in and out of to swap batteries and fly farther, or pick up or deliver loads. And the third is the operating system that manages the whole network.