Do more romantic options lead to better decisions?
Posted Sep 11, 2017
There are a plethora matchmaking websites and services on the internet. Thousands of people are presenting themselves in attractive profiles in an attempt to find the right one. Matchmaking websites also use search engines that help you to filter out bad matches. It seems reasonable to assume that more search options would lead to better results; however, the opposite is true. Research demonstrates that the greater options available through search technology actually lead to poorer results in our romantic pursuits. It appears that a glut of search options overloads our cognitive resources and leads us to invest a lot of time on less compatible options and, in many cases, our search for love becomes inefficient (Wu & Chiou 2009).
A later study compared what are known as “maximizers” and “satisfiers.” The former refers to the kind of person who examines all the options in their search for maximum satisfaction, the type who would typically state, “When I’m in the car listening to the radio, I often check other stations to see if something better is playing even if I’m relatively satisfied with what I’m listening to.” This behavior demonstrates a maximizing tendency. People with low maximizing tendencies are known as “satisfiers.” The research study in question compared the choice-making strategies of the two groups, focusing on excessive searching, quality of final decisions, and selectivity. Results indicated that the participants with high maximizing tendencies (i.e., maximizers) demonstrated more pronounced searching than did those with low maximizing tendencies (i.e., satisfiers). When we look in terms of selectivity and final choices, the negative effect of excessive searching on decision making was found to be more prominent for maximizers than for satisfiers. These findings reveal that excessive access to options doesn’t always lead to better choices or more satisfaction. (Yang & Chiou, 2010).
See more on this issue in my new book, Internet Psychology: The Basics.
Amichai-Hamburger, Y. (2017). Internet Psychology: The Basics. New York: Routledge
Wu, P. L., & Chiou, W. B. (2009). More options lead to more searching and worse choices in finding partners for romantic relationships online: An experimental study. Cyberpsycholgy and Behavior, 12, 315–318
Yang, M. L., & Chiou, W. B. (2010). Looking online for the best romantic partner reduces decision quality: The moderating role of choice-making strategies. CyberPsychology, Behavior & Social Networking, 13, 207–210.