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Decisions, Decisions

by kelly • March 18

We recently stumbled upon an article in the New York Times about Dr. Sheena Iyengar, a professor at Columbia University and an expert in choice.

“We’re born with the desire, but we don’t really know how to choose,” she said. “We don’t know what our taste is, and we don’t know what we are seeing. I’m a great believer in the idea of not choosing based on our taste. I could wear makeup today, and one person would say it looks bland, another would say it looks fake, and another might tell me I look really natural. Everyone is convinced their opinion is the truth, and that’s what I struggle against. But doesn’t everyone? What I do is aim for consensus. That’s my rule of how to choose.”

For Dr. Iyengar, listening to other people's opinions is partially based on necessity due to the fact that she's blind. However, blindness aside, she says people thrive on choice, in fact it’s the actual act of choosing that brings contentment, more than the object itself. In addition to insights on how people make decisions, Dr. Iyengar conducted a study in which she presented samples of jam to shoppers in a store. Some people were given a choice of 6 flavors, others were given 24 different jams to choose from. The majority of people who visited the smaller sampling ended up purchasing the jam while those who were confronted with 24 jams rarely made a purchase.

Think about how many choices we make in a day. Starting with what to wear, to what color best speaks for a brand, even how many products should be launched for a new product line. When we work on projects, we have many critiques in which both designers and strategists come to the table and voice their opinion. Undoubtebly, the work is always strengthened after a critique because people think differently.

To read more about Dr. Iyengar check out this article or pick up her book, The Art of Choosing, due out this month.