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... the study that measured samples on offer, customer interest and the amount ultimately purchased.

For reference, this is one of the data slides he took from the study: alt text

I'd love to read the study for myself.

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closed as too localized by Jon Seigel, random May 10 '10 at 23:59

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Seeing your name brings up something about a village. – random Nov 4 '09 at 13:50
Okay, I am the only ruby programmer in the village! – daf Nov 4 '09 at 14:29
FYI, the slide is no longer available. – bacon Jan 29 at 14:21
up vote 10 down vote accepted

I belief he was referring to When Choice is Demotivating: Can One Desire Too Much of a Good Thing? by Sheena S. Iyengar.

The study is also referred to in Chris Anderson's book "The Long Tail", which I'm currently reading. To quote this article:

But what about Anderson’s Long Tail? In his book, Anderson also refers to Iyengar’s study (pages 170 – 172) but has a different take on it. He argues that it’s not so much the number of choices available to us, but the tools available to us to filter and order our alternatives. As he notes, his local grocery story has a lot more than 24 choices of jams, yet they still sell lots of jams. The difference is in how we make the decisions. Anderson quotes the conclusion of Iyengar and her colleagues in another study, “Knowing What You Like versus Discovering What You Want: The Influence of Choice Making Goals on Decision Satisfaction”:

“Despite the detriments associated with choice overload, consumers want choice and they want a lot of it. The benefits that stem from choice, however, come not from the options themselves, but rather from the process of choosing. By allowing choosers to perceive themselves as volitional agents having successfully constructed their preference and ultimate selection outcomes during the choosing task, the importance of choice is reinstated. Consider the request in Forbes’ recent ‘I’m Pro-Choice’ article: “Offer customers abundant choices, but also help them search.” We now know how.”

I'm wondering what Joel thinks of this take on the experiment, especially in relation to the points he made on software development in his keynote.

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Joel just twittered a link to the "When Choice is Demotivating" study:

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I got "access forbidden" when trying to access the file :( – bacon Jan 29 at 14:22

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