Yep, we agree with you Barry... 100%
We have referenced Barry and The Paradox of Choice in many of our new project proposals and client meetings.
As Santeri explained so well in a previous post... "Less is More". This will always be true. It is a mantra that we follow religiously every day. A mantra that we annoy our clients with on a regular basis. Whenever we start a new project we always make one simple request: "Please let us help you do better by doing more with less". However, no matter how many times we say this to a room full of nodding heads and knowing smiles, we often find ourselves being asked at the 11th hour to throw in the kitchen sink (with bells and whistles)... which ultimately results in us doing less with more.
Some clients want proof and ask us to validate our mantra with hard data (whilst they are dumping a truck load of content for their new one page responsive website into our shared Dropbox folder). This can be tricky as up until now "Less is More" has been more of a belief system, a feeling, intuition based on many years experience of knowing what consumers want... rather than a science.
However, my friend Malcolm Gladwell has come to the rescue (he is not actually a friend, but I've read all of his books and he sounds like a nice bloke). Whilst on the train this morning reading his book "David & Goliath" I came across a reference to Barry Schwartz and some inverted-U curves:
As you know I'm already very familiar with Barry, but the inverted-U curves are a new discovery (I guess they must have been knocking around academia and research agencies for quite a while now). They are a very simple but effective way of illustrating less is more. They are based on approximate data, theory and hypothesis, and may not stand up to hard scrutiny, but they help support our mantra. The subject matter for each inverted U-curve is different, and you probably need to read Malcolm's book to fully understand the context, but they are relatively easy to follow. This is what Barry had to say: "Across many domains of Psychology, one finds that 'X' increases 'Y' to a point, and then it decreases 'Y'... There is no such thing as unmitigated good. All positive traits, states, and experiences have costs that at high levels may begin to outweigh their benefits."
Malcolm goes on to say that Inverted-U curves have three parts: 1. left (doing more or having more = positive effect) 2. middle (doing more or having more = neutral effect) 3. right (doing more or having more = negative effect). Malcolm's dad (a mathematician) goes one stage further, he believes there are 4 phases: footing / flagging / flat / falling). Fascinating.
That's probably enough on the subject for now (less is more).
Whatever your opinion on the subject, I'm sure you'll agree that more is not always more... it can sometimes be less! Don't just take our word for it, we all know what happened to Tony Montana when he got to the right side of his inverted-U curve: