New research on online dating sites shows that users can experience "cognitive overload" when faced with too many choices, causing them to make poorer decisions. The researchers, Pai-Lu Wu from Cheng Shiu University and Wen-Bin Chiou from the National Sun Yat-Sen University in Taiwan, suggest that new technologies and approaches could help address this problem.
The study involved an experiment that gave online date-seekers varying numbers of search results on dating sites. The study found that providing fewer results led to more careful choices. Chiou says this trend is a "double-edged sword," as people like having a wide variety of choices, but a large selection means less time is spent evaluating each prospective choice. The researchers conclude "more search options lead to less selective processing by reducing users' cognitive resources, distracting them with irrelevant information, and reducing their ability to screen out inferior options."
Michigan State University professor Nicole Ellisons says the sheer amount of information available online is a problem for users, and when searching for complex, subjective information, users may experience cognitive overload and make decisions based on superficial observations. Chiou believes a few technical solutions could reduce cognitive overload, such as reminding users how many profiles they have already viewed and which profiles most closely match their own.
From Technology Review
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