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Surprising Science

Why Easy Decisions Are the Hardest

Why do the simplest consumer choices, such as choosing a variety of toothpaste, cause us such a dilemma? A cluttered store shelf tricks us into thinking we are making an important decision.

Jonah Lerher asks why we are sometimes paralyzed by decisions that ultimately have very little consequence: “The problem is that the modern marketplace is a conspiracy to confuse, to trick the mind into believing that our most banal choices are actually extremely significant. Companies spend a fortune trying to convince us that only their toothpaste will clean our teeth, or that only their detergent will remove the stains from our clothes, or that every other cereal tastes like cardboard. And then there is the surreal abundance of the store shelf. Do we really need 13 different varieties of Cheerios?”


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