Is too much choice a bad thing?

London’s Evening Standard newspaper recently claimed that, according to independent research, around 4 million single people in the capital are currently looking for a relationship. In a separate survey, seven out of ten Londoners under the age of fifty said they had dated in the past year – underlining just how few people are in long-term relationships.

There are new online dating sites launching all the time – so how come a growing proportion of Londoners are thirty-something and still single?

A significant development in the past decade has been the explosion of consumer choice which appears at first to be a good thing. However, academics such as Barry Schwartz, Professor of Social Theory at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, believe that unlimited choice is JUST AS BAD as no choice and could be at the root of the rising number of single people.

The internet provides almost endless choice with a phenomenal number of dating sites offering millions of potential partners, which is very appealing on first glance to single people. Surely a huge choice is a good thing?

But Professor Schwartz and others believe that greater choice actually DIMINISHES the chance of our choosing a partner because we think that there is someone ‘better’ just around the corner. How many of us get anxious about choosing the right type of coffee now (skinny, mocha, etc) when faced with a long list in Starbucks, let alone deciding whether a person might be ‘the one’?!


2 responses to “Is too much choice a bad thing?

  1. Yes, it’s awful. When you have so many options at your disposal, you hold out for the “best” one. By the time you gone through the list, you find out that you left the “best” one for you behind because you were in pursuit of the best of the best. It’s like the cornfield story below.

  2. kissingfrogsinthecity

    I totally agree. It’s just so easy to believe to think there is a better ‘match’ for you when you’re faced with so many choices. I think online dating can be very addictive in this way – constantly thinking that you’re going to find ‘the one’ tomorrow, or the day after…

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