Don’t make me choose

Having more choices is generally considered a good thing, until you actually have to choose that one cell phone, one prescription drug plan, or one car model from among a dozen or so options. Economists call that problem choice overload, and the frustration it causes can lead to poor decisions.


To help people make better choices when confronted by a large number of options, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology studied two decision-making strategies that break down the options into smaller groups that can be evaluated more effectively. Like the Final Four basketball elimination, the best technique goes like this when you have to choose from many options:

•  Divide the options into piles of 4.

•  Choose the best option from each pile.

•  Put the winners from the first round into a new finalist pile.

•  Choose the best option from winners of the earlier 4 selections.

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