The Paradox of Choice, Editor’s Letter, March 2013



Have you ever heard of the famous jam study? Conducted in 1995 by Sheena Iyengar, a professor of business at Columbia University, the study took place at a California gourmet market, where Iyengar and her colleagues set up a table offering samples of Wilkin & Sons jams. They alternated between displaying six types and 24 types of jams. Regardless of the setup, customers sampled two jams on average, and they each received a $1-off coupon for the jam.“Here’s the interesting part,” The New York Times wrote in a 2010 article mentioning the study. “Sixty percent of customers were drawn to the large assortment, while only 40 percent stopped by the small one. But 30 percent of the people who had sampled from the small assortment decided to buy jam, while only 3 percent of those confronted with the two dozen jams purchased a jar.”The upshot: The greater the choice, the less incline
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