Friday, December 23, 2005

When Choice is Demotivating


Current psychological theory and research affirm the positive affective and motivational consequences of having personal choice. These findings have led to the popular notion that more choice is better, that the human ability to desire and manage choice is unlimited. Findings from three studies starkly challenge the implicit assumption that having more choice is necessarily more intrinsically motivating than having fewer options. These three experiments which were conducted in field and laboratory settings show that people are more likely to purchase exotic jams or gourmet chocolates, and undertake optional class essay assignments, when offered a limited array of 6 choices rather than an extensive array of 24 or 30 choices. Moreover, participants actually reported greater subsequent satisfaction with their selections and wrote better essays when their original set of options had been restricted rather than expanded. Implications for future research are discussed.

When we consider the pros and cons of a large array of choices, all the choices become less desirable. This is counterintuitive in a way but nonetheless true. Maybe this is one of the reasons why Jesus only built one Church. This study also lends weight to Ronald Knox when he said, “the study of comparative religions is the best way to become comparatively religious.”

No comments: