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Reducing Choice Overload without Reducing Choices


  • Tibor Besedes

    () (Georgia Institute of Technology)

  • Cary Deck

    () (The University of Arkansas)

  • Sudipta Sarangi

    () (Virginia Tech)

  • Mikhael Shor

    () (University of Connecticut)


Previous studies have demonstrated that a multitude of options can lead to choice overload, reducing decision quality. Through controlled experiments, we examine sequential choice architectures that enable the choice set to remain large while potentially reducing the effect of choice overload. A specific tournament-style architecture achieves this goal. An alternate architecture in which subjects compare each subset of options to the most preferred option encountered thus far fails to improve performance due to the status quo bias. Subject preferences over different choice architectures are negatively correlated with performance, suggesting that providing choice over architectures might reduce the quality of decisions.

Suggested Citation

  • Tibor Besedes & Cary Deck & Sudipta Sarangi & Mikhael Shor, 2015. "Reducing Choice Overload without Reducing Choices," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 97(4), pages 793-802, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:97:y:2015:i:4:p:793-802

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    1. Florian Heiss & Daniel McFadden & Joachim Winter & Amelie Wuppermann & Bo Zhou, 2016. "Inattention and Switching Costs as Sources of Inertia in Medicare Part D," NBER Working Papers 22765, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Samek, Anya & Hur, Inkyoung & Kim, Sung-Hee & Yi, Ji Soo, 2016. "An experimental study of the decision process with interactive technology," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 130(C), pages 20-32.
    3. Jason A. Aimone & Sheryl Ball & Brooks King-Casas, 2016. ""Nudging" Risky Decision-Making: A Note on the Causal Influence of Information Order," Working Papers e07-52, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Department of Economics.
    4. Dellaert, B.G.C. & Baker, T. & Johnson, E.J., 2017. "Partitioning Sorted Sets: Overcoming Choice Overload while Maintaining Decision Quality," ERIM Report Series Research in Management ERS-2017-014-MKT, Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM), ERIM is the joint research institute of the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University and the Erasmus School of Economics (ESE) at Erasmus University Rotterdam.
    5. Job Harms & S. Rosenkranz & M.W.J.L. Sanders, 2017. "Choice Complexity, Benchmarks and Costly Information," Working Papers 17-07, Utrecht School of Economics.
    6. Malone, Trey & Lusk, Jayson L., 2017. "The excessive choice effect meets the market: A field experiment on craft beer choice," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 8-13.

    More about this item


    choice architecture; choice overload; inertia; status quo bias; self-sorting; decision making; experiments;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles


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