Choosing Science! Interview and Illu

science illustration - Mind the brain - the choice paradox

There is a little interview with me on the neuroscience-blog Mind the Brain. My Japan paintings each play a bit with perception-effects – and I want to get more into that.

I’ve also made a little illustration for their article about the choice paradox. It’s about the finding that we always want more choice, but then might not even be able to cope with it. It’s an great read – with some interesting implications for every day life.

When researching for the illustration I cam across some additional research, that I haven’t heard of before. Benjamin Scheibenhenne et al. points out in a paper called “Can There Ever be Too Many Options?“, that it’s not the mere amount of option that matters, but how they are presented, how relevant they are (hence the nearly same-colored jams in the illustration) and how you go about choosing.

So here some tips about how to get more positive outcomes from choices:

– Don’t first concentrate on which item you like most, before deciding whether to buy it. Rather decide first if you need the product category, and then which one fits your needs. That makes you much more satisfied with your choice in the end.
– Define what features the item needs – and then go grab first item that fits the list. It’s enough for most purchases.

– Similarly: Define early what would eliminate an option from the pool – so you can reduce the amount quickly.

– Think “whats the best option here” instead “I need the perfect product”. Perfectionism makes you look elsewhere, and makes you always doubt if there wasn’t a better option in another shop. Lord knows I have to fight this urge… it’ll be just fine for a pot of jam.

– Decide for yourself. Making choices that you have to justify to others (if you choose for them, or you’re judged by the choice), makes you more self critical – and less content with your choice.

footnotes n’stuff:
– Scheibehenne, B., Greifeneder, R. & Todd, P. M. (2010). Can There Ever be Too Many Options? A Meta-Analytic Review of Choice Overload. Journal of Consumer Research, 37, 409-425. [download pdf] [source] [safety copy]