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I wonder what is the negative of having many possibilities. I sometimes find my self stagnate in some process when it comes to decision making. An the more opportunities I have the more I struggle. Are there studies, books, articles comprising this phenomenon?

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  • $\begingroup$ By my own experience, if you get many options, I think people might "look for something even better" but if they only get one option, they might think this is the only option. I was working with sales many years ago and learned quickly to never give the customer several options to choose between. If I did, then they had to think what to buy and left empty handed, but if I only gave them one option and explained why this is the right option for them, it was almost guaranteed they would buy it. $\endgroup$ – Mr Zach Apr 24 '18 at 20:33
  • $\begingroup$ I found The Paradox of Choice - Why More Is Less by Barry Schwartz (2004) an interesting read on this topic. $\endgroup$ – Steven Jeuris May 2 '18 at 8:38
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The problems presented by having too many choices are defined at the personal level by Overchoice and at the organization level as Analysis Paralysis. However, they both cover the same idea, wherein too many choices overwhelm a person's decision making process as each alternative is considered.

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There are several perspectives that you can take in understanding your (and others) difficulties in making decisions when there are a lot of options. You could think like a psychologist, in terms of the psychological processes involved e.g. Regret Theory. Or you could think like an economist in terms of strict assumptions about the desirability of different options and how they relate to one another e.g. Opportunity Cost. Really, there are so many different ways you could approach this that it's hard to give specific books or papers you could read.

In general, though, the key problems with making a decision when there are many options is the increased difficulty in making the "best" choice (which is often the goal) and also the fact that when one makes a decision about one option, one has to give up on the other options. When there are more options, there is more given up by making a choice.

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  • $\begingroup$ I like this answer as in the last part of your answer you provided an argument which combined both theories provided. $\endgroup$ – Chris Rogers Apr 29 '18 at 5:56
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I myself found a paper dealing with 3 studies that all together answered my personal question. It's the studies of Iyengar, S. S. und Lepper, M. (2000), which point out that having many opportunities can harm decision making and can even lead to dissatisfaction after making the decision. I actually can't say how trustworthy this studies are, since I'm not from this subject, but they correspond to my own experience.

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    $\begingroup$ Could you add some exercepts to give context to what you found from them? $\endgroup$ – Seanny123 Apr 29 '18 at 14:18

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