The following is an excerpt from an upcoming book on technology, distraction, and why training simply is the most effective way to improve your cycling. To get updates and follow the progress of the book please sign up for our newsletter.

For the first time—literally—substantial and rapidly growing numbers of people have choices. For the first time, they will have to manage themselves. And society is totally unprepared for it.

Peter Drucker

Cyclists love options: road, mountain, gravel. We celebrate the versatility of the bike in delivering adventure and competition over any terrain. 

Our bikes offer even more choice. Mechanical or electrical? Tubeless or clincher? Cycling is a sport of options. 

The technical nature of a bicycle might be one reason cyclists love to tinker with their training, always chasing the silver bullet interval set or recovery hack. 

When it comes to doing the hard work of training, research suggests that having fewer choices might offer an advantage. 

In his book The Paradox of Choice author Barry Schwartz describes an experiment in which researchers set out to understand the impact of more choice on consumer purchasing habits [1]. Here’s how the study played out.

Researchers designed two separate product displays in a grocery store to better understand how a shopper might make purchasing decisions when looking at specialty jams.

The first display resembled what a typical shopper would encounter when entering a grocery store: lots of options, in this case 24 different jams. In the second display, jam options were limited to just six choices.

Researchers found that 30% of shoppers who were exposed to the “limited-choice” display purchased jam, while only 3% exposed to the “extensive choice” display made a purchase. 

The takeaway? Navigating a glut of choices might reduce motivation to make a purchase. In short, evidence suggests that choices degrade our willingness to do.

References

1.         Iyengar, S.S. and M.R. Lepper, When choice is demotivating: can one desire too much of a good thing? J Pers Soc Psychol, 2000. 79(6): p. 995-1006.

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Written by Nate Dunn M.S.

Nate Dunn has spent his entire career in education and coaching. As a former teacher and now founder/head coach at Data Driven Athlete, he is most excited about helping cyclists discover their potential as they experience more great days on the bike.