Regretting your Choices

The choices we make are statements to the world about who we are. When all you could do was buy Lee’s or Levi’s, the jeans you bought were not a statement to the world about who you are because there wasn’t enough variety in the jeans you bought to capture the variety of human selves. When there are 2,000 kinds of jeans, or 20,000 kinds of jeans, well, now all of a sudden it is a statement to the world about who you are because there’s so much variety out there. This is true of jeans. It’s true of drinks. It’s true of music videos. It’s true of movies. That makes even trivial decisions seem important, and when that happens, people want the best. We’ve got a bunch of studies that show that large choice sets induce people to regard the choices they make as statements about the self, and that, in turn, induces them to raise their standards.If there are 200, and you buy a pair of jeans that don’t fit you as well as you hoped, now it’s hard to avoid blaming yourself. The only way to avoid regretting a decision is not making it, so I think a lot of the reason people don’t pull the trigger is that they’re so worried that when they do pull the trigger, they’ll regret a choice they made.

Barry Schwartz quoted in Vox