Abstract and Applied Analysis

Choice Overload, Satisficing Behavior, and Price Distribution in a Time Allocation Model

Francisco Álvarez, José-Manuel Rey, and Raúl G. Sanchis

Full-text: Open access


Recent psychological research indicates that consumers that search exhaustively for the best option of a market product—known as maximizers—eventually feel worse than consumers who just look for something good enough—called satisficers. We formulate a time allocation model to explore the relationship between different distributions of prices of the product and the satisficing behavior and the related welfare of the consumer. We show numerically that, as the number of options becomes large, the maximizing behavior produces less and less welfare and eventually leads to choice paralysis—these are effects of choice overload—whereas satisficing conducts entail higher levels of satisfaction and do not end up in paralysis. For different price distributions, we provide consistent evidence that maximizers are better off for a low number of options, whereas satisficers are better off for a sufficiently large number of options. We also show how the optimal satisficing behavior is affected when the underlying price distribution varies. We provide evidence that the mean and the dispersion of a symmetric distribution of prices—but not the shape of the distribution—condition the satisficing behavior of consumers. We also show that this need not be the case for asymmetric distributions.

Article information

Abstr. Appl. Anal., Volume 2014, Special Issue (2013), Article ID 569054, 9 pages.

First available in Project Euclid: 2 October 2014

Permanent link to this document

Digital Object Identifier

Mathematical Reviews number (MathSciNet)

Zentralblatt MATH identifier


Álvarez, Francisco; Rey, José-Manuel; Sanchis, Raúl G. Choice Overload, Satisficing Behavior, and Price Distribution in a Time Allocation Model. Abstr. Appl. Anal. 2014, Special Issue (2013), Article ID 569054, 9 pages. doi:10.1155/2014/569054. https://projecteuclid.org/euclid.aaa/1412277370

Export citation


  • S. S. Iyengar and M. R. Lepper, “When choice is demotivating: can one desire too much of a good thing?” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, vol. 79, no. 6, pp. 995–1006, 2000.
  • B. Schwartz, “Self-determination-the tyranny of freedom,” American Psychologist, vol. 55, pp. 79–88, 2000.
  • R. G. Sanchis, J.-M. Rey, and F. Álvarez, “Numerical analysis of a time allocation model accounting for choice overload,” International Journal of Computer Mathematics, 2013.
  • B. Scheibehenne, R. Greifeneder, and P. M. Todd, “Can there ever be too many options? A meta-analytic review of choice overload,” Journal of Consumer Research, vol. 37, pp. 409–425, 2010.
  • A. Caplin, M. Dean, and D. Martin, “Search and satisficing,” American Economic Review, vol. 101, no. 7, pp. 2899–2922, 2011.
  • B. Schwartz, A. Ward, J. Monterosso, S. Lyubomirsky, K. White, and D. R. Lehman, “Maximizing versus satisficing: happiness is a matter of choice,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, vol. 83, no. 5, pp. 1178–1197, 2002. \endinput