Choice architecture to reduce choice overload

From “Reducing choice overload without reducing choices,” by Tibor Besedeš, Cary Deck, Sudipta Sarangi, and Mikhael Shor:

[S]everal studies have suggested that increased choice may not be beneficial to decision makers. Despite the greater likelihood of a better option being available, a larger number of choices may lead to choice overload, greater regret, and more indecision. This has led some to suggest that choice sets should be restricted. From a practical standpoint, all proposals calling for restricting a choice set face the criticism of being paternalistic in determining how choices are restricted.

Instead of attempting to restrict the choice set, we seek to identify whether restructuring choice architectures can enhance decision quality while still maintaining the size of the choice set. […]

Our findings essentially push the paternalistic discussion associated with choice overload back one level. Our work suggests that more, but not all, people would select better options with a sequential tournament; however, this choice architecture may be the least preferred of those we consider. Therefore, in some cases, policymakers or others designing a choice problem may wish to impose an unpopular procedure in order to improve decision-making quality.

It’s a fascinating paper with impressively careful methods.


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