Variety, Vice, and Virtue: How Assortment Size Influences Option Choice

Aner Sela, Stanford University, USA
Jonah Berger, University of Pennsylvania, USA
Wendy Liu, University of California, Los Angeles, USA
Research has demonstrated that assortment size can influence whether consumers make a choice, but could it also influence what they choose? Six studies demonstrate that because choosing from larger assortments is often more difficult, it leads people to select options that are easier to justify. Virtues and utilitarian necessities are generally easier to justify than indulgences, and consequently, choosing from larger assortments often shifts choice from vices to virtues and from hedonic to utilitarian options. These effects reverse, however, when situational factors provide accessible reasons to indulge, underscoring the role of justification. Implications for choice difficulty, justification processes, and decision making more broadly are discussed.
[ to cite ]:
Aner Sela, Jonah Berger, and Wendy Liu (2009) ,"Variety, Vice, and Virtue: How Assortment Size Influences Option Choice", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 36, eds. Ann L. McGill and Sharon Shavitt, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 27-30.