The choice effect

 

As a nation we’re quite literally ‘spoilt for choice’. Everywhere we turn there is a mind-boggling parade of consumer choices offering everything from clothes, gadgets, holidays, entertainment and pet insurance, to what career paths to follow and how to plan our social calendars. You only need to pop into your local supermarket for a tube of toothpaste and a pint of milk, to realise that the sheer amount of choices on offer are overwhelming. Each product claiming to do something different from the next – do you want organic milk or regular, do you want it from a cow or from a bean, with or without calcium?

Although all of these options mean we sometimes get exactly what we want, are we suffering from a paradox of choice –a generation that loves choice but hates choosing?

In an experiment carried out by Columbia University over ten years ago (when consumer goods were in shorter supply), researchers found that too much choice actually lead to people responding negatively. During the experiment shoppers were presented with different options of Jam in the supermarket. Some shoppers saw a variety of 6 different Jams; others were shown 30. Results found that those shoppers that were presented with a smaller amount of options (30%) went onto to purchase the product. Subsequently, only a mere 3% of shoppers went on to buy the product after being given a larger choice- suggesting that we thrive when we are given less to choose from.

Too many fish in the sea?

Nothing seems to exemplify this paradox of choice more than our dating habits and our attitudes towards commitment. With the taboo of online dating rapidly dissipating – thanks to our strong reliance on technology – more people than ever are turning to online dating to weigh up their options and see what’s on offer.

Online dating allows us to access pools of singles anytime, anywhere. With an abundance of singles and this instantaneous approach to dating, we can pick and choose who we want to date at the click of a button or a tap of a mobile phone screen. Similar to that of the Jam test, all of this choice has given rise to a conundrum for those who are dating - the more choice we have, the more difficult it becomes for us to decide what it is that we want. Even though we love to have options, they make us second guess ourselves, ‘do we have enough in common?’, ‘will I find someone better if I continue looking?’ We begin flipping through photos and judging people very quickly based on face value. We've potentially always been doing that in a real life sense, but now we're not even talking to them, simply dismissing people because they have a dodgy headshot online.

The rise of the niche site

So if all of this choice is actually hindering our decision making, what does this mean for the future of relationships and online dating in-particular?

Studies are showing that there’s a growing proportion of users who are now shifting to a much more specific approach to online dating, thus narrowing their choices and making the decision making process a little easier. To cater for this demand we are now seeing an influx in niche specific sites popping up online. Everything from interest specific sites; such as sports, the outdoors, rock music and so on; to sites based on religion and ethnic background; sites based on occupation; and sites based purely on what people are looking for in a relationship - whether that be casual, long term or just for the night.

Although popular, mainstream sites like Match.com and e-Harmony are more about quantity rather than quality. Attracting all sorts of people with all kinds of interests, the choice paradox couldn’t be truer for these brands. Singles may log on and feel so overwhelmed by the sheer amount of choice on offer that they don’t know where to begin, and subsequently log back off again.

When less is more

Deciding on priorities before looking at what’s available will help to counter-act the choice effect. Everyone has their very own unique vision, or ‘check-list’ of what they are looking for in a partner, so it makes sense to join a site that matches the very basics on the list. Is it important that your partner has the same passion for the outdoors as you do? Or maybe sharing the same religion is a priority to you? Whatever your criteria, there is probably a niche for it. The beauty of niche dating is similar to that of the Jam test, in that the less people in the dating pool, the higher the chances of finding a potential match. It’s harder to feel angst-ridden when there are fewer choices to be made.

So why not find your niche and find the niche dating site for you. Here at Independent Dating we cater for like-minded singles who all share a similar viewpoint and lifestyle. Join today and find your perfect match!

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral