Confronted with too many choices

October 10, 2011|Liz F. Kay

Here's a first-world problem: we have too many choices.

At the supermarket, we've got 300 types of cereal to choose from and picking a pair of jeans means sorting through the different cuts, washes and fit (even before considering mundane questions such as size).

And the choices keep changing: just when I thought I was on a first-name basis with the style of pants that worked for me at my favorite clothing chain, they went and switched them on me.

But based on a Cornell University study, when faced with complicated choices consumers should go with their guts, according to this Wall Street Journal story. You might be able to rationalize your way to the right decision when considering a few variables, but when things get complex, use your emotions as a guide.

The other problem, of course, is decision fatigue. If you're constantly weighing cost, environmental factors and convenience for every purchase, you're going to run out of self-control eventually.

So, it seems like the best course of action is to save your research and pro/con lists for really important, big-ticket decisions.
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