Analysis ParalysisOpen Access

Analysis Paralysis

Our capacity to process information and make decisions reduces with each made

Each trade-off we make between options quickly depletes our ability to solve problems correctly. We’ll eventually revert to defaults or give up.

Vohs, Baumeister, Schmeichel, Twenge, Nelson & Tice (2018). Making choices impairs subsequent self-control. Self-Regulation and Self-Control.

The study

Setup

Setup

42 people were either asked to make 35  'A or B' choices that would inform the design of an educational course they were attending, or instead to just read the course material. Both were then tasked with solving math puzzles and were timed until they gave up.

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Results

Results

Those who had to make the choices beforehand persisted for less time on the puzzles and also got fewer right.

Study graph
np_read_2490885_000000

Vohs, Baumeister, Schmeichel, Twenge, Nelson & Tice (2018). Making choices impairs subsequent self-control. Self-Regulation and Self-Control.

Key Takeaways

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Protect your decision capacity.

Prioritize your day around and take breaks before making harder decisions. For example, restaurant inspectors can reduce errors by scrutinizing sites at higher risk of failure at the start of the day (Ibanez & Toffel, 2017).

Takeaway image
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Create product contrast.

When no option in a set offers a distinct advantage from the others, we're most at risk of not choosing at all (Dhar, 1997). How can you improve your choice architecture to offer variety that actually makes deciding easier? 

Takeaway image
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Order matters for revenue.

Prospective Audi owners given a high number of customization options early on more readily accepted, higher-priced defaults in later steps (Levav, 2010). Though be careful not to trigger Reactance by pre-selecting defaults that are seen as too expensive.

Takeaway image
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Takeaway image
Takeaway image
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Analysis Paralysis

Analysis Paralysis

Our capacity to process information and make decisions reduces with each made

Each trade-off we make between options quickly depletes our ability to solve problems correctly. We’ll eventually revert to defaults or give up.

The study

Setup

42 people were either asked to make 35  'A or B' choices that would inform the design of an educational course they were attending, or instead to just read the course material. Both were then tasked with solving math puzzles and were timed until they gave up.

Results

Those who had to make the choices beforehand persisted for less time on the puzzles and also got fewer right.

study graph
np_read_2490885_000000

In detail

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We copy the behaviors of others, especially in unfamiliar situations

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A loss hurts more than an equal gain feels good

Reciprocity

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We’re hardwired to return kindness received

Framing

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We make very different decisions based on how a fact is presented

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We feel more negative when losing something than positive when we gain it

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We tend to accept the option pre-chosen for us

Anchoring

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What we see first affects our judgement of everything thereafter

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We make knee-jerk spontaneous decisions that can cause regretful damage

Dynamic Norms

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We’re more likely to change if we can see a new behavior developing

Salience

Salience

Our choices are determined by the information we're shown

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A loss hurts more than an equal gain feels good

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