As Nudge blog readers know well, the paradox of choice is the paralysis that accompanies decision making as the number of available options increases. It’s harder to pick a prescription drug plan when there are 60 plans than when there are four.
Three marketing researchers think there’s more to the paradox of choice than, well, choice. In the paper “Variety, Vice and Virtue: How Assortment Size Influences Option Choice,” they argue that the object consumers are making a decision about matters too. Through five experiments that explore choices involving ice cream and fruit, and MP3 players and printers, they find that increasing the number of available options leads people to choose the more sensible goods–the fruit instead of the ice cream, the printer instead of the MP3 player–because they are easier to justify.