It's a given that to be a good consumer, it's best to research your options before you make your purchase. In a world of Amazon, not to mention the rest of the internet, that becomes a literally mind-boggling task. If you're overwhelmed by the options in front of you, don't be too hard on yourself: Your brain is basically freaking out a little.
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Psychologists at the University at Buffalo have just released a study investigating the paradox of choice that so easily paralyzes some of us. In short, we love the idea of having lots of choices, but when it comes down to making that decision, we freeze up. The Atlantic's Amanda Mull recently shared a piece on how modern shopping, including online, has actually curbed consumer choice. She credits product overwhelm with the rise of influencer and review culture online, as well as those startups that only sell one highly engineered-slash-guaranteed enjoyable thing. Meanwhile, antitrust expert Lina Khan has pointed out that 9 out of 10 Amazon Prime subscribers don't price-compare, and thus lose out on potential savings.
The UB researchers offer some good ways to ease up on your panic, though. "Choosing the wrong menu item for dinner or what to binge-watch is not going to define you as a person," said co-author Thomas Saltsman. "It may also be helpful to enter high-choice situations with a few clear guidelines of what you want from your desired option." In other words, you will trust yourself more when you know what you want — no need for second thoughts or regret.