A Taiwanese study of people using online dating sites finds that “the more our brains have to search through, the more difficult it also
becomes to ignore irrelevant information. A person is also more likely
to be distracted (or attracted to) attributes that were not initially
relevant or pertinent to their original search.”
This is the classic consumer conundrum. Too much choice can be paralyzing. Sociologists report that the amount of leisure time we have today is about the same as we had 20 years ago. Yet ask people if they have more or less, and they overwhelmingly report they have less. Why? One theory is that because there were fewer choices 20 years ago, it was relatively easy to decide what you wanted to do with your free time.
Now we have so many choices competing for our time that the act of deciding what you want to do can be anxiety-producing. Infinite choice, it turns out, makes it more difficult to decide what is important to you. We need ways of organizing information into an understandable framework. That’s what matchmakers do. That’s what journalists do. That’s what artists do.