Sometimes I find myself overwhelmed by too many choices. Of course it is nice to have options but when there is a plethora of choices, it can be confusing and even stressful. Some time ago we visited a Japanese restaurant with a stupendous array of buffet items. After wandering up and down the aisles of options, I was in a quandary of what to choose. It would be impossible to sample everything even in small portions. I had to shut down my confusion and simply pick a few items that were more familiar to me. Imagine what it would be like for someone who had never encountered a huge array of choices in a grocery store.
In my distant past of the late 1970's I hosted a visiting engineer from the Soviet Union. We set up a comfortable apartment near the Cornell University Campus. As a part of our welcome two of us took him to a local super market to stock up on food and household items. During our shopping spree he was in a daze. In his life he had never seen that many different food choices in one location. He had been living in a country where one choice of a food would be available for a short period of time. While we were checking out the array of cheeses in a cooler, he decided that he better take one of every choice there. (In retrospect, he thought the abundance was a set up and this food wouldn't be available the next time he shopped). Later as we became friends, we would laugh about this.
Is there a psychology about having too many choices? Is there an optimum number of choices to satisfy the customer? Probably each of us has an optimum number of choices built into our personality. Because this blog has a skiing theme I am ending on that note. When skiing at my local ski area the number of slopes open on any day varies. If all slopes were open, I probably would be unable to sample the entire mountain. In this case the many choices of slopes wouldn't stress me out. On the flip side I can tell you that when only a half dozen or less trails are open it is not enough. Conclusion: Too many choices or too few choices can be stressful in their own way. I want the sweet spot of choices! Not too many to overwhelm me, but enough to convince me I can be satisfied.