MindBullets 20 Years


Information overload and too much choice lead to anxiety and depression

Three years ago, in 2013, the world was trying to estimate what the true size and impact of ‘Big Data’ would be. It seems like we got much more than we bargained for.

The latest studies on mental health presented by the World Health Organization report that one in every three individuals in the United States, France and Germany suffers from some type of mental illness that stems from anxiety. In South Africa, Brazil, Nigeria and India the statistic is one in five. Professor Michaela Benotti from the University of Milan, who took part in the study, argues that information overload is to blame. People have become totally overwhelmed by the multitude of options that they face every day.

The report refers to the Too Much Choice (TMC) effect: When faced with 24 jam samples, consumers bought significantly less than when they were faced with only six jam samples. Sheena Iyengar and Mark Lepper published this research back in 2000.

“What we now see is the TMC effect on steroids. We have many options, but we also know more about these options than ever before. We have noticed that it is all getting too much for some people. More and more individuals become anxious and then choose not to make a purchasing (or other) decision at all,” Benotti says.

Embedded sensors and social media are creating a flood of data related to our every commercial or social transaction. Algorithms and neural networks make sure this Big Data is relevant, timely and in-your-face. So, what’s wrong with that?

It turns out to be a rather ‘Big Deal’ if your target market suffers from decision fatigue. Ideally you would want your customers to spend their money on your product and not on Prozac, right?

Warning: Hazardous thinking at work

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