- A reluctance to make changes
- A fear of making choices
- A wish to preserve the opportunity to choose
The researchers also verified that consumers differ substantially in the extent to which they suffer decision paralysis. One characteristic of those who experience it more often is that they are accustomed to fretting about past decisions, wondering if they chose what was best.
This new study of an old topic concludes that decision paralysis is more likely when there are more considerations to compare and it is more difficult to figure out tradeoffs.
Other research findings suggest these ways to head off and unfreeze ties:
- If you offer a limited selection, point out a few differences among the items.
- With a large selection, list no more than five of the most important product features and no more than five of the product alternatives. However, if the product alternatives are very similar in what features they have, then include one or two trivial features that one or two of the alternatives have, but the others don’t. This helps unfreeze the decision maker who is immobilized by information overload.
- Use similar wording in describing the features of each product. And provide tables that list features across the top, the names of a small selection of product alternatives along the left side, and checkmarks in the cells to indicate which product has which features.
- In the product descriptions and in the table, list features concisely. But also outside the table, state the benefit of each feature: “Low rolling resistance gives you better fuel efficiency.”
- Offer a clearly inferior alternative. Say, “May I show you one more model that I think would help you decide? I hate for you to need to go shopping somewhere else.” Researchers at University of Toronto report that this often dislodges a tie and results in a purchase decision.
- Add a gift to accompany one of the alternatives. Researchers at University of Chicago and Columbia University find that with financial investment decisions, it even works to offer a small gift with both of two alternatives because this moves the decision toward the riskier choice, breaking the tie. The researchers call this the “mere token effect.”
Click below for more:
Break Ties When There’s Limited Selection
Compare Features to Ease Overload