Sheena Iyengar

When Choice Is Demotivating: Can One Desire Too Much of a Good Thing?

Coauthor(s): Mark R. Lepper. View Publication

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 more choice is better, that the human ability to desire and manage choice is unlimited. Findings from three studies starkly challenge the implicit assumption that having more choice is necessarily more intrinsically motivating than having fewer options. These three experiments which were conducted in field and laboratory settings show that people are more likely to purchase exotic jams or gourmet chocolates, and undertake optional class essay assignments, when offered a limited array of 6 choices rather than an 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 restricted rather than expanded. Implications for future research are discussed.

Source: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
Exact Citation:
Iyengar, Sheena, and Mark R. Lepper. "When Choice Is Demotivating: Can One Desire Too Much of a Good Thing?" Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 79, no. 6 (December 2000): 995-1006.
Volume: 79
Number: 6
Pages: 995-1006
Date: 12 2000