# When faced with a choice and trying to make a quick decision, are 2 options better than 3 or more options?

Bastardi & Shafir (1998) show how too much data disabilitates your decision making. There is also the popular Paradox Of Choice argument.

However, I can't find a reference stating that, when faced with a decision, 2 options are better than 3 or many options. It makes sense--you either like one of the options less or more than the other, and can then come to a quicker conclusion.

Is my intuition correct? If so, Could someone please point me in the direction of a thesis or paper which shows that?

UPDATE

I just found this paper and will update my question (or answer it!) if I find an answer.

UPDATE 2

I realise that the converse can be true as well, especially in the scenario when obtaining something, like the latest tablet. For example, bias and culture could make it really easy for you to discount the vast majority of options (e.g. anything not made by Apple), but then you struggle to make the final decision (e.g. shall I get an iPad 64GB or an iPad 4G?).

• If you are comfortable with mathematical models of decision making then the models in this question will help you. As you noted in your question, what is more likely to matter is not the number of choices as much as the similarity of the choices (usually choosing between similar options takes longer than when one is clearly better). The number of choices doesn't necessarily have anything to do with how similar options are. In most real-life settings you're usually more likely to find similar options when given more choices and this would slow you. Sep 13, 2012 at 12:41
• What do you mean by better? Faster to choose, with higher utility (how defined?), causing less doubts during the choice, causing less doubts after the choice...? And, what is the 3rd option (better, worse, different) for 2 others? (Otherwise a great question, BTW.) Sep 13, 2012 at 13:56
• @ArtemKaznatcheev thanks for pointing to the other question. Coincidentally, I bought my (large) team pizzas for lunch, and was asked on the final page to "choose my offer" which ranged from "3 XL pizzas, get 1 free" or "free can of soda for every pizza" and since a meeting was starting in 2 minutes, I just went with "40% off entire order" after spotting it in the corner of my eye. Now I'm tempted to place the same order again to see if I made the correct spontaneous choice :-P May 18, 2017 at 21:01