Limit your options (for an apartment, toilet paper, anything) to seven
, tops—the average number of units most of us can juggle in working memory
. Add more and you'll feel paralyzed—like those now-famous study participants who were asked to choose between six types of jam versus 24 (30 versus 3 percent bought a jar), investment funds
(more options, less participation) and speed dates
(too many was a turnoff).
In choice-overload mode, decisions made are also riskier
, finds a gambling study at the University of Warwick
—because information-gathering skills weaken and we lose our sense of probability.