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Can There Ever Be Too Many Options? A Meta-Analytic Review of Choice Overload

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  • Benjamin Scheibehenne
  • Rainer Greifeneder
  • Peter M. Todd
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    Abstract

    The choice overload hypothesis states that an increase in the number of options to choose from may lead to adverse consequences such as a decrease in the motivation to choose or the satisfaction with the finally chosen option. A number of studies found strong instances of choice overload in the lab and in the field, but others found no such effects or found that more choices may instead facilitate choice and increase satisfaction. In a meta-analysis of 63 conditions from 50 published and unpublished experiments (N = 5,036), we found a mean effect size of virtually zero but considerable variance between studies. While further analyses indicated several potentially important preconditions for choice overload, no sufficient conditions could be identified. However, some idiosyncratic moderators proposed in single studies may still explain when and why choice overload reliably occurs; we review these studies and identify possible directions for future research. (c) 2010 by JOURNAL OF CONSUMER RESEARCH, Inc..

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    File URL: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/pdf/10.1086/651235
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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Consumer Research.

    Volume (Year): 37 (2010)
    Issue (Month): 3 (October)
    Pages: 409-425

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    Handle: RePEc:ucp:jconrs:v:37:y:2010:i:3:p:409-425

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    Web page: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JCR/

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    Cited by:
    1. Homburg, Christian & Totzek, Dirk & Krämer, Melanie, 2014. "How price complexity takes its toll: The neglected role of a simplicity bias and fairness in price evaluations," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 67(6), pages 1114-1122.
    2. Eric Johnson & Suzanne Shu & Benedict Dellaert & Craig Fox & Daniel Goldstein & Gerald Häubl & Richard Larrick & John Payne & Ellen Peters & David Schkade & Brian Wansink & Elke Weber, 2012. "Beyond nudges: Tools of a choice architecture," Marketing Letters, Springer, vol. 23(2), pages 487-504, June.
    3. Luca Corazzini & Christopher Cotton & Paola Valbonesi, 2013. "Too many charities? Insight from an experiment with multiple public goods and contribution thresholds," "Marco Fanno" Working Papers 0171, Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche "Marco Fanno".
    4. Amit, Adi & Sagiv, Lilach, 2013. "The role of epistemic motivation in individuals’ response to decision complexity," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 121(1), pages 104-117.
    5. Kerstin Gidlöf & Annika Wallin & Kenneth Holmqvist & Peter Møgelvang-Hansen, 2013. "Material Distortion of Economic Behaviour and Everyday Decision Quality," Journal of Consumer Policy, Springer, vol. 36(4), pages 389-402, December.
    6. Arne Roets & Barry Schwartz & Yanjun Guan, 2012. "The tyranny of choice: a cross-cultural investigation of maximizing-satisfising effects on well-being," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 7(6), pages 689-704, November.
    7. Ali Besharat & Daniel Ladik & François Carrillat, 2014. "Are maximizers blind to the future? When today’s best does not make for a better tomorrow," Marketing Letters, Springer, vol. 25(1), pages 77-91, March.
    8. Lauren S. Carroll & Mathew P. White & Sabine Pahl, 2011. "The impact of excess choice on deferment of decisions to volunteer," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 6(7), pages 629-637, October.
    9. Blocker, Christopher P. & Ruth, Julie A. & Sridharan, Srinivas & Beckwith, Colin & Ekici, Ahmet & Goudie-Hutton, Martina & Rosa, José Antonio & Saatcioglu, Bige & Talukdar, Debabrata & Trujillo, Carl, 2013. "Understanding poverty and promoting poverty alleviation through transformative consumer research," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 66(8), pages 1195-1202.
    10. Justin M. Weinhardt & Brendan J. Morse & Janna Chimeli, 2012. "An item response theory and factor analytic examination of two prominent maximizing tendency scales," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 7(5), pages 644-658, September.
    11. Luca Corazzini, Christopher Cotton, Paola Valbonesi, 2012. "Salience, Coordination and Cooperation in Contributing to Threshold Public Goods," ISLA Working Papers 44, ISLA, Centre for research on Latin American Studies and Transition Economies, Universita' Bocconi, Milano, Italy.

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