CHAPTER 16Choice

Think about all the decisions we make in one day. Some of them are thrust upon us as part of modern life and others we actively seek for one reason or another. The number of choices that we encounter is staggering, from work, to food, to our social lives, to how many olives we prefer in our martini. Just with regard to the food we consume, we make over 200 decisions per day, deciding upon not just what we eat, but where we eat, when we eat, and how we eat it. How many times have you stared at a menu while a “patient” waiter offered, “Do you need more time?” Even a menu can be overwhelming, yet whether it is cars, mattresses, or vacation destinations, we like to have as many options as possible. Starbucks advertises that there are 80,000 combinations of drinks to choose from. This clearly relates to all of the different combinations of preferences for each drink, such as no foam, lots of foam, extra hot, not too hot, room for cream, no room for cream, and so on. If you tried one of these combinations daily, it would take you around 200 years to sample each of them. If you found the perfect one in year 83, would you remember that it was perfect 117 years later? I will go out on a limb and say that it is unlikely. Even though we have no use for so many choices, marketers love to showcase them all. Rarely do you hear an ad for hot tubs or tires or whatever where the announcer says, “Come on down! We have limited options for you to choose from!” We want more choices. ...

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