Naturally, we'd imagine that people enjoy having the ability to choose—and they do. They are drawn to (and even become addicted to) the options available to them because they intuitively believe they will discover something that best meets their wants. However, giving people choices can also be problematic because it leads to indecision and confusion, both of which are overwhelming for most people.
People prefer some level of certainty in their lives, which is one reason why they often dislike changes or surprises. Of course, they can cope with a little uncertainty - it's when it prevails that things start getting tricky. And since most people don't want to feel helpless, they want there to be answers somewhere, even if they have to search quite hard to find them. This desire to know what will happen next makes many people uneasy when presented with too much choice.
Asking people what kind of choice they would prefer is difficult because there are two completely different types of choices that could be made: those that provide information and enable people to make an informed decision, and others that force someone to make a choice regardless of how they feel about it. For example, you might ask someone who doesn't like the idea of choosing between two different products whether they would rather be given a list of all the features of each item so they can compare them before making a choice, or provided with only one option but told which one that is.
What is the significance of choice? Choice is vital for our well-being because it gives us the illusion that we have some control over our life. There is a significant corpus of scientific research on decision-making and choice, and the path to making excellent choices is well marked. The problem is that most of us don't use this knowledge when making decisions. We prefer to go with our first instinct, which is usually the least helpful option available.
Every time we make a choice there's a certain percentage of chance that it will be the wrong one. If we make no choice at all, then there's still a percentage that we will be harmed even though we didn't choose to be. Thus, choosing either way has negative results, but making a choice offers some relief from these consequences.
The more important the choice, the more stress it creates in our mind. This is because significant choices require us to focus on what we want and don't want, which is difficult because we are generally focused on something else at the time. For example, if I asked you to choose between having a good relationship with your partner and having an amazing career, then you would probably choose yourself first because both relationships and careers are important. However, if I asked you to choose between having a good relationship with your partner and saving someone's life, then you would probably choose saving people's lives first because this choice would create more stress than the other one.
When we make individual decisions, we presume that we only have control over our own behaviors and not those of other people in the surroundings. Personal choice enables us to tap into our desires and thus advance our agenda. When making these decisions, calmness and clarity of mind are vital. Being driven by desire or greed leads to conflict and chaos within ourselves and around us.
Individual choice is important because without it there can be no progress, no innovation, no enjoyment. Without freedom to choose what we want others cannot choose what they want. Society requires common rules and standards so that everyone's choices don't destroy the environment or others' rights. However, society cannot force anyone to behave according to their values; instead, it provides the tools for individuals to decide for themselves.
Choice is also important because it gives us power over our lives. We have the right to say "no" if a situation makes us feel uncomfortable or unsafe. We can walk away from obligations we do not want to fulfill. We can decide what kind of person we want to be and act like that person sometimes. Choice allows us to develop ourselves as people.
Finally, choice is important because it is a requirement for living a happy life. If we were forced to live under one ideology or set of rules, whether political or social, we would be deprived of the ability to grow and change.
People make decisions because they are unable to have what they desire. All options need the sacrifice of something (opportunity cost). Economic decision-making necessitates weighing both the opportunity cost and the monetary cost of various options against their advantages. To buy products and services, people must consider their benefits vs. their costs.
What is the best way for consumers to make purchases? Through a process called "choice architecture". The goal here is to present people with different options so that they can choose what they want. For example, if you want someone to pick from two options but don't want them to pick based on which one has more features, then you should offer both options at once and let people decide for themselves which one they prefer. This can be done by putting all the options in one place or presenting them separately. For example, if you were to sell cars, you could put all the models up for sale in one area and let customers decide which one they want to look at later. Or, you could put each model apart from its competitor so people can see the differences between them.
How does choice architecture affect consumer behavior? People will always choose what they want instead of what you give them optionality over. If you show people too many options, some will never get chosen. This is called "option paralysis". However, if you limit the number of options presented, more will get chosen. This is called "choice overload".