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What’s Done Is Done

Actions of finality—such as closing a menu—may make you happier with your choices

Author Jacqueline Detwiler Illustration Jeff Quinn

amazingfactPay close attention the next time you’re at The Cheesecake Factory, and you may notice something counterintuitive: Having more options can make you less pleased with your dinner selection. Study after study has shown this to be the case, in large part because people become dissatisfied when they compare the thing they got with other options after their choice is completed. However, a new study from researchers Yangjie Gu, Simona Botti and David Faro in the Journal of Consumer Research may offer a solution. In three experiments, researchers asked subjects to select a cookie, a piece of chocolate or a type of tea from an array of flavors, then told them to close the menu or place a lid over the remaining options before consuming their selection. Those who did so were less likely to think about and compare their picks to the rest of the treats, and rated their selections as more pleasing. The other option, of course, is just to order everything on the menu, but we hear scientists frown on that.

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