When Choice Jams You Up

Sheena Iyengar's The Art of Choosing details her research on decision-making processes and the role of choice. Turns out that having a wide range of options does not necessarily make humans happier. She designed the Draeger's Market experiment where shoppers were confronted by two jam-tasting kiosks: one with 24 different types and the other with 6 types. The kiosk with only 6 types of jams attracted fewer shoppers than the other kiosk, but ten times as many buyers.

She says, "Cognitively, we just have a harder time doing the math, comparing and contrasting so many different prospects." She also learned in her research that there are conditions under which you would do better to have others choose for you than choose for yourself.

Something, I'd say, marketers have known for years. Now there's research to support the madness of mad men.