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Decide and Conquer: The Ultimate Guide for Improving Your Decision Making, Second Edition by Stephen P. Robbins

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36. You Can Have Too Much of a Good Thing

Who the heck needs 31 flavors of ice cream?

—S. Robbins

Consider the following study conducted at an upscale California grocery store.1 Over the course of two 5-hour periods, consumers were offered samples of exotic jams. One display had 24 flavors from which to sample; the other only 6. Customers were allowed to taste as many jams as they wanted. The study was meant to see how many flavors customers would sample, whether the number of samples would influence future purchases of the jams, and how satisfied the customers were who later purchased one or more of the jams.

Here’s what the study found. First, the average person who stopped by the displays—both the one with 24 varieties and the one with 6—sampled ...

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