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7. Inspired Decisions > 7.5. Information Overload

Information Overload

As Calvin Mooers told us back in 1959, people may not want information, because having it can be painful and troublesome. When it comes to information, sometimes less is more, as we see in Figure 7-3. We know this explicitly from studies that show an inverted-U relationship between the volume of information and decision quality. In fact, a recent study at Kings College in London showed that information overload harms concentration more than marijuana.[*] We also know this tacitly from experience. We have all felt overwhelmed by details, and we all choose, every day of our lives, to ignore vast quantities of data.

The inverted U
Figure 7-3. The inverted U

We choose not to choose. We rely on habit. We trust familiar brands. We copy our colleagues. But the decisions only multiply faster—education, entertainment, insurance, investment—we are inundated with products, services, plans, and promotions. And it makes us miserable. As Barry Schwartz explains in The Paradox of Choice:


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