Is Too Many Choices a Bad Thing?

08/07/2010

(Photo source)

Having a choice is very important in our society.  We want to have a choice in our education, our careers, our food, our homes, our friends, our clothes, heck – even our tooth paste!

Does it ever get to the point where we can have too many choices?

I think so.

Take this for example.  Last week, I was hanging out with my Little Sister (I volunteer in a community program that is similar to Big Brother and Big Sister).  We head to the local supermarket on a quest for Popsicles. We get to the freezer aisle, and I let her choose the type of frozen treat that she wanted.

She chooses the Dora popsicles.

*Palm to forehead*

Sure, they come in shapes of stars, the moon, circles and squares.  But they were $4.59 for ten measly single stick popsicles!  But, I gave her a choice, and I wasn’t about to take it back.

I remember when I was a kid, my sisters and I only knew of ONE type of Popsicles. They were the ones that came in orange, purple and pink in two stick packages.  My mom would break the Popsicle against a wall corner and we would share each Popsicle between two people.  I have no idea how much those had cost, but I’m sure it’s not almost $1 per two sticks!

Yes, you can call me a cheap-O for complaining about shelling out 5 bucks for some coloured sugar water that is sure to make my Little Sister very happy.

But my point is – that I believe I was just as happy a child eating my Popsicle (which came in only 3 flavours and 1 shape) with my sisters, as my Little Sister who gets to have Dora Popsicles.

So when I retold this story to my parents, I jokingly said, “Sometimes, it’s best not to have a choice.”

In this case, my Little Sister was too young to see that a popsicle is a popsicle, and will taste the same, whether it be in the shape of a circle or a hexagon.  She also doesn’t know the premium that big brand companies charge on everyday items (which are probably identical to their no-name counter parts) just to have their logo/mascot on a specific product.

All that she knew was there was a picture of Dora on the box, and she liked Dora.

Even though this is a simple example, I think this mentality applies to lots of things that we, as adults, face in our daily lives and decisions.

Do we make decisions that will improve our lives and make us better people?   Do we make decisions that will make us happier?  Or do we make decisions based on advertisements with promises that their product will solve all our problems?  Or do we make decisions based on cartoon or logos slapped on?

What are your thoughts on this?  Any real life examples you would like to share?

PS.  I tend to overthink things, that is why I have blog 🙂

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8 Responses to “Is Too Many Choices a Bad Thing?”

  1. Annie Says:

    I agree! Sometimes I feel bewildered by the choices presented in marketing and *gasp* don’t buy anything! Figure that teaches them for offering too much!

    On the Popsicles I get a big bag at Wal Mart of the old-fashioned kind for about two bucks. Try to keep it on hand instead of giving the kid a choice. She is just as bad as all other kids, so I just eliminate choices whenever possible.

    They put out the choices to make us doubt if our normal selection is truly “the best.” For me, simpler is definitely the way to go.

  2. Young Mogul Says:

    Too many choices is definitely a bad thing, IMO. We already live in a consumption obsessed society, and more choices simply encourages more spending.

  3. eemusings Says:

    Hell yes. The supermarket is a den of choices.

  4. fern Says:

    If you want to watch the fascinating way big time marketers use “choice” to seduce consumers into buying, just watch the TV shopping channels, like QVC or HSN.

    After a while, you’ll notice that with practically every item they sell, whether it’s kitchen blenders, purses or any kind of clothing, they offer the same exact item in a myriad of different colors.

    Why having a choice between many different colors works to get you to buy more I’m not sure, but I’m also sure it’s no accident. The TV “host” (aka, salesman) lovingly fingers and handles each color and spends quite a bit of airtime acclaiming the virtues of each color.

    It’s really quite interesting.

  5. Jersey Mom Says:

    Oh definitely fewer choices makes it easier and less time consuming. For example, look at the entire aisle of shampoo and conditioner!


  6. Annie – Good idea. Lesson learned! 🙂

    Young Mogul – Agreed.

    Eemusings – I used to wander up and down the aisles of the supermarket, and more and more things would just end up in my cart. Now I go with a list/mission in mind and make a bee line for those aisles only 🙂

    Fern – I haven’t been watching too much tv lately. But I remember the slap chop and how they almost claimed they could make America skinny (I think meant healthy), “one slap at a time”. It’s a bit of a leap to think that simply having an item that can chop will change your lifestyle.

    Jersey Mom – Great example! I used to make a bee line for the sale items. I found that it really didn’t matter what I used on my hair.:P

  7. gorgeouskim Says:

    hi there hows it going

  8. Aida Tostado Says:

    Exactly what a writeup!! Very informative and simple to recognise. Looking for more such comments!! Do you have a facebook? I recommended it on digg. The only thing that it’s missing is of color. However thank you for these details.


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