Spoilt For Choice

We all ask for more choice and complain about the trend to simplify stock in our favorite stores as a negative aspect of modern living. We can recall those halcyon days of 20 years ago when you could go into a store and have an enormous choice of items.

Perhaps it is time to rethink that demand. Wouldn't we really prefer to have more of our decisions pre-packaged with perhaps the illusion of choice?  Think about one of our choices, which can lead to high stress levels both before and after you have made the choice, namely our choice of mate.

These days we have more choice than ever before. On-line dating services provides us with pages of potential candidates and speed dating events again leaves us, er... well what?. Spoilt for choice is a phrase that comes to mind. But is this really the case?

Lenton and Francesconi from the Us of Edinburgh and Essex got together to investigate the effectiveness of speed-dating in aiding mate choice (1). They analyzed the outcomes from a total of 84 speed-dating tourneys.

When there was lots of variation in factors such as age, height, occupation and education amongst the contenders, one would assume that it would be an exciting event with many positive dating decisions to be made. Not so, however.  Too much choice resulted in no choice at all and few dates were made. Apparently, if there is little variation, we don’t panic and get down to concentrating on the job at hand and set up lots of liaisons.

Additional News Up-date
Many of us have been following the fate of the New Zealand’s royal visitor. You’ll all recall the Emperor Penguin who turn left in Antarctica and ended up on a New Zealand beach where he overheated and ate sand thinking it was snow and would cool him down. The New Zealanders have decided to call him “Happy Feet” on an antipodean whim.

Well, Happy Feet has recovered from his three high colonics to remove the sand and has now gained almost 10 lbs. It seems that his health insurance has maxed out. He is due to be kicked off the end of New Zealand’s south island and will be pointed in the general direction of the South Pole (2). We wish him luck.

  1. A.P.Lenton and M.Francesconi, Royal Society Biol. Lett., 7, 528, (2011).
  2. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-14337401

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