The Paradox of Choice and Online Dating

Does nearly limitless choice translate to a greater degree of personal happiness?

Do you spend more time picking movies on Netflix… or it Hulu? YouTube or cable… maybe your own collection, than you do… wait, did you even pick a streaming service yet?

The Paradox of Choice is a theory stating that when there is a dramatic increase in options the more difficult it then becomes to make a choice, and the easier it is to regret the choice made. The greater availability of excessive choice leads to an increase in expectation of how satisfying the options will be- this ultimately produces a less satisfying result, even when the result would have otherwise been adequate.

Connecting with fellow singles online is almost always more successful for women than it is for men.

This is usually how it goes…

Online dating provides women with a tremendous amount of perceived choice and option- far more than she would garner in her own real life. This abundance of choice creates a dilemma, and ultimately a paralysis, when faced with making a choice and sticking with it. This paralysis in decision making is met with the artificially elevated feeling of result-expectation that is inherent when the perception of infinite choice is available. The woman may make a temporary choice, regret that choice immensely, and return to the pool to enjoy the process of making further choices. This process can then repeat itself infinitely (even if the girl’s choices begin to decline in quality, some choices will still be there).

Barry Schwartz: The Paradox of Choice [Ted Talk]

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