Meetings & Your Brain

Decision Overload

Is there such a thing as too much choice?

I recently attended a conference where more than 100 experts spoke in dozens of sessions packed into two days. Afterwards, I told a friend I was happy to get back home, partly to be relieved of the stress of making decisions about which conference sessions I should attend. We laughed, but I was half-serious.

Only during the plenaries and a couple of other outstanding sessions did I escape the feeling that I might have made the wrong choice, and that I was missing out on something somewhere else.

And according to Columbia University’s  Dr. Sheena Iyengar, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing when it comes to choice.  Iyengar,  a speaker at Convening Leaders 2011, told Convene that studies have shown that having too many choices can leave us  less satisfied with what we do choose. It can also overwhelm us and make us less likely to act.

There are ways to present content in ways that aren’t overwhelming,  Iyengar suggested, including dividing choices into categories and then limiting choices in each category.

Here’s a link to the February 2011 article.

Barbara Palmer

Barbara Palmer is senior editor and director of digital content.