As one considers the growing number of electronic discovery products and services and the corresponding features available in each of these offerings, it is increasingly important for product developers/manufacturers and service providers to understand the balance between providing clients the right amount of functionality choice and providing clients too much functionality choice. This balance is important because research indicates that having too many choices can actually lead to the counter-intuitive phenomena of choice frustration. One example of this research, published in 2000 in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, investigates the effect of choices on satisfaction. This research is provided below for your review, consideration, and use.
When Choice is Demotivating: Can One Desire Too Much of a Good Thing?*
By Sheena S. Iyengar (Columbia University) and Mark R. Lepper (Stanford University)
Abstract: Current psychological theory and research affirm the positive affective and motivational consequences of having personal choice. These findings have led to the popular notion that the more choice, the better—that the human ability to manage, and the human desire for, choice is unlimited. Findings from 3 experimental studies starkly challenge this implicit assumption that having more choices is necessarily more intrinsically motivating than having fewer. These experiments, which were conducted in both field and laboratory settings, show that people are more likely to purchase gourmet jams or chocolates or to undertake optional class essay assignments when offered a limited array of 6 choices rather than a more extensive array of 24 or 30 choices. Moreover, participants actually reported greater subsequent satisfaction with their selections and wrote better essays when their original set of options had been limited. Implications for future research are discussed.
Extract: Having unlimited options, then, can lead people to be more dissatisfied with the choices they make. Although such a finding may seem counter-intuitive to social psychologists schooled in research on the benefits of choice, to many of today’s humorists, this phenomenon seems already well known. Consider, for example, this portrayal by Bill Watterson, of one particularly exasperated grocery shopper:
Look at this peanut butter! There must be three sizes of five brands of four consistencies! Who demands this much choice? I know! I’ll quit my job and devote my life to choosing peanut butter! Is “chunky ” chunky enough or do I need EXTRA chunky? I’ll compare ingredients! I’ll compare brands! I’ll compare sizes and prices! Maybe I’ll drive around and see what other stores have! So much selection, and so little time! (Watterson, 1996, p. 107).
For the complete article (PDF), click here.
*Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2000, Vol. 79, No. 6, 995-1006 Copyright 2000 by the American Psychological Association, Inc. 0O22-3514/00/$5.O0 DOI. 10.1037//0022-3522.214.171.1245