The Paradox of Choice

I was recently, at work, given the book, The Paradox of Choice, to read. It confirms many anecdotal stories and observations I have had about human behavior and decision making.

A long time ago, I heard a report on NPR about a study that said, “People who research decisions and review many alternatives are usually UN-happier with their decision than people who make “gut” decisions. The reason, says Barry Schwartz, has to do with basic human pschology; our aversion to loss, regret and avoidance of responsibility. Decision-making, says Napolean Bonaparte, is the most difficult skill to master and therefore, the most valuable.

This education gives me better insight into why certain web designs work better than others. It also bolsters my world view that information architecture is one of the most important design tools we have in the 21st century.

More on this later, but here is some advice…make more gut decisions. Don’t think about the alternatives, they will only make you upset.

4 Replies to “The Paradox of Choice”

  1. He seems pretty sure of himself. Does he have hundreds of studies and statistics to back up that claim.

    Doesn’t it seem that observation and statistical analysis is a good way to learn things about human behavior?

  2. Doesn’t it seem that observation and statistical analysis is a good way to learn things about human behavior?

    I suspect you’re joking, but having taken a year’s worth of stat and applied stat, I’ll give the serious answer:

    Yes and no. Statistics can predict how a group of humans are likely to act, but it’s worthless when it comes to predicting the behavior of a single human being.

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