The impact of decision-making and making choices

Research Briefing

Keywords: decision-making, choice making, choice, decisions, self-regulation, emotion regulation

On a day-to-day basis we make probably hundreds, if not thousands, of small decisions and choices. Many of these are small habit-based and routine choices, like what order to do things when we get up in the morning, spanning right through to life changing and momentous decisions and choices, such as who to marry, career choices and strategic organisational decisions and choices.

Indeed, there is good evidence to show that the number of choices and decisions we make on a daily basis has increased exponentially. One study found that in 1976 the average supermarket carried approximately 9,000 unique products. By 1992 this number had increased to over 30,000 different products and today (2018) it is estimated that the majority of people in the western world have the choice of millions of different products, as supermarkets increasingly go online. Another study found that Starbucks, even though it is primarily a coffee shop, has in excess of 19,000 different drink combinations available. These are just the mundane choices we make on a day-to-day basis.

The research briefing looks a new study which clearly shows the limitations of people’s decision-making capabilities.

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