Critical Thinking Media Competence

Overchoice—Group 1

In today's society overchoice is a major problem. First of all the meaning of overchoice has to be clarified. The idea of overchoice rose in the early 1970's and was first introduced by Alvin Toffler:


"[Overchoice takes place when] the advantages of diversity and individualization are canceled by the complexity of buyer's decision-making process."


— Wikipedia: From Alvin Toffler, Future Shock, 1971 [1]


People can have trouble in making a decision because of too many choices which are offered to them. Too many possibilities can overstrain people and can cause overwhelming feelings.


As we have seen during the course: “Critical thinking and media competences” all of us have had their experiences with overchoice. Lots of different aspects of overchoice were mentioned:


“Which transport should I take to university?”

“Which sandwich do I want to eat?”

“Which clothes should I wear?”

“Which cheese in the supermarket should I buy?”


These mentioned aspects show that overchoice accompanies us all in our whole life. It can start with simple things like choosing apples in the supermarket and end with more important ones like finding the right fields of studies.


Imagine an evening in an Italian restaurant. There are four people sitting on a table and want to decide what to eat. In the beginning they have to decide what to drink. Do they want to drink something alcoholic or not? After that it comes to the decision what to eat. All four of them can choose between different combinations of fish, meat, pizza and noodles. After they have decided and the food is served people start to overthink their decision. We probably all have had thrown jealous looks on our neighbors because the pizza does look delicious and would have maybe been the better choice than the noodles.


Dealing with the theme clarifies that overchoice in general is a sign for wealth and status in development of a society. With increasing wealth in a society more choices can be offered. Coming back to the example with the right field of study. In the past people were only able to choose between limited amounts of fields of studies and were unsatisfied because of their limited possibilities. Nowadays lots of different possibilities are offered but people are overwhelmed by them and fail to make a decision. This is what can be described as the “Paradox of choice”. The “Paradox of choice” is what the psychologist Barry Schwartz mentioned in his speech in July 2005.


The “Paradox of Choice” leads to different questions. We have to ask ourselves: “Does it makes life easier with less choices?”


Lots of people would say on the one hand it does because nowadays we spend lots of time in the decision-making progress. Even after the decision lots of people still have a problem with it and start to reconsider what they decided. They start arguing with themselves if they have made the right decision. Maybe they would have made a better choice by choosing another product. These questions could distract people from doing or thinking of more important things in life.


With less choices this decision-making progress and the overthinking would missing and people could spend more time on other parts in their life.


“But would that make us happier?”


With fewer choices people would start complaining about the missing possibilities they have. Just to give a very simple example: Imagine you want to paint your wall. You go to the store (the only store far and wide) and want to buy the right color. They offer two different colors: blue and red. For you it should be an easy decision if the color blue or the color red looks better on your wall. But actually you wanted to paint your wall yellow. The absence of possibilities would make your decision easy but it would not make you happy. To be honest three colors would not be an overchoice but you could compare it to other things and there will always be a small degree between a good amount of choices and overchoice.


All in all overchoice could be a great opportunity for people. Without all the possibilities we might not be as individual as we are now – and people love to be individual. The decisions you made in life have made you to the person you are now. But the decision-making progress has to be learned. Everyone should have its own values of which he classifies the situation and makes a decision. We just have to find the right way to handle with overchoice and have to be careful that the decision-making progress does not start to control our life. People grow with their decisions and even a “bad” decision can have something positive. They can learn out of it and the next time they maybe make the “right” or the “better” decision.


Also the companies and the society itself could probably work on the theme overchoice. Companies should ask themselves if the amount of choices they offer is still a good one or not. Does it still makes people fortune but does not slow down the decision-making progress to strong? This little degree between those two possibilities is hard to find. The goal for modern companies is to fulfil those requirements as good as possible.


Finally dealing with the theme overchoice shows that several aspects have to be considered. There is no answer to the question if overchoice is good or bad. Overchoice is and always will be a part of our life. There is a very small degree between a good amount of possibilities and overchoice. There might be people who deal better with the decision-making progress than others but we all should find the best way for us dealing with decisions. People should be happy with all the possibilities they have in a modern society even if that does not always make life easier.





[1] Wikipedia – Overchoice: 26.06.2014 -