A dating app can lead to face swiping fatigue.
With a slew of pictures and bios to consider, users can find it harder to select the right person. Analysts have suggested that the endless supply makes the search go on and on since there could always be someone better.
Recognizing the problem, in 2017, two Stanford students developed the Marriage Pact. Based on “core values” rather than looks or interests, it gave participants one match. After the app went viral at Stanford, they tried it out at other colleges.
The Marriage Pact solution is somewhat similar to what Bed Bath & Beyond did with its can openers. It all relates to choice fatigue.
When Less is More
Bed Bath & Beyond sold more can openers when it reduced the size of its selection. Management believes that shoppers bought more because they had fewer choices.
Similarly, Coach has decided to diminish its handbag variety. Bringing the number of styles down from from 1,000 to 500, they said, for example, that we would no longer have to choose between a leather or a chain strap. They’ve also reduced their color palette, down mostly to black, brown, and off-white, not three shades of red.
At this point, an economic doctor would say that the two retailers were dealing with a malady rather similar to face swiping fatigue.
Our Bottom Line: Choice Fatigue
Behavioral economists like to tell us that sometimes more is less. There is a cost (defined economically as sacrifice) for making decision after decision. Depleted, at some point, our brain looks for shortcuts. It tries to do less.
The following experiments have confirmed their conclusions:
- Offered jam samples, grocery store customers purchased more when given 6 than when they could try 24.
- At a mall, people who shopped more were able to do fewer math problems afterwards than those who had shopped less.
- Asked to display will power by submerging an arm in ice water for as long as possible, students who made multiple decisions endured the cold for 39 fewer seconds than a control group that had to decide much less.
From 2014, this is a classic TED talk on choice fatigue:
As some of you know, I have the same breakfast every morning, shop at one store for clothing, hate buffets, and try to skip the plastic baggy aisle in the supermarket (where I find all the size alternatives daunting).
My goal is to avoid choice fatigue. Now I guess I can select a can opener at Bed Bath & Beyond.
My sources and more: Yesterday’s WSJ article on inventory cutbacks reminded me it was time to return to choice fatigue. It immediately took me to this discussion of dating apps, to this Vox description of the Marriage Pact, and to this update from Yale. Then, do read this excellent piece from John Tierney in the NY Times Magazine.
Please note that parts of today’s “Bottom Line” were in a previously published econlife post.