More is less?

選擇是人生中最艱難的挑戰,我們永遠也不知道如何在各種情境做正確的選擇,依照 Murphy's Law,不管你選擇在那個服務窗口排隊,你選擇的隊伍一定最長最慢;當你擁有眾多的選項可以選擇,事情變的更為麻煩,所謂「亂花漸欲迷人眼」,因為選擇太多,不知道要選哪個才好。

心理學家 Mark Lepper 及 Sheena Iyengar 曾經針對這種現象做了一個有名實驗,這幾位心理學家在加州的一個超級市場裡設置了果醬試吃攤位,參與試吃的消費者分成兩組,一組提供 6 種口味,另一組則提供24種口味,試吃的消費者可以得到購買果醬的折價券。研究人員發現,試吃6種口味的消費者,購買果醬的總消費金額遠遠超過試吃24種口味的消費者。這兩位學者將實驗結果整理後撰寫論文 When the choice is demotivating: Can one desire too much of a good thing? ,於章於2000年發表在美國心理學會期刊 Journal of personality and social psychology 。

Barry Schwartz
 用禪味十足簡潔有力的「多即是少(More Is Less)總結這種情形,他在《The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less》引用上述實驗,作為多即是少的強力佐證。事實上,在現實生活中,因為太多選擇而無所適從,甚至因而做了錯誤決策的Analysis Paralysis 情形更是俯拾皆是。

但是也有人對這個已經被許多人深信的「偈語」提出挑戰Tim Harford 去年底在 Financial Times 上發表的 Given the choice, how much choice would you like? 和 AAAS  EruekALert! 服務刊出的新聞 Too many choices? New study says more is usually better,都提到學者Benjamin ScheibehennePeter Todd 和 Rainer Greifeneder 所做的研究 - Can There Ever Be Too Many Options? A Meta‐Analytic Review of Choice Overload

Tim Harford 在報導中說:Scheibehenne 做了十個實驗,實驗結果顯示,更多選擇並沒有對受測者造成困擾。甚至研究者還預言,如果進一步探討,答案應該是沒有影響 。

After designing 10 different experiments in which participants were asked to make a choice, and finding very little evidence that variety caused any problems, Scheibehenne and his colleagues tried to assemble all the studies, published and unpublished, of the effect.  The average of all these studies suggests that offering lots of extra choices seems to make no important difference either way.

究竟 More is Less 有沒有道理呢,這還真是個有趣的問題呢!


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