Make More Sales with the Science of Selling

Single-Option Aversion

by David Hoffeld

Does the number of product options presented impact whether or not a purchase will be made? This was the question that behavioral scientist Daniel Mochon sought to answer. His research, which was published in the Journal of Consumer Research, determined that the number of prod­uct options did heavily influence buying behaviors.

In one of his experiments, consumers were asked to purchase a DVD player. When a single DVD player was shown, only 10 percent purchased. However, when two different brands were shown sales skyrocketed, as an impressive 34 percent agreed to purchase the original DVD player, while 32 percent agreed to purchase the second DVD player. In total, a whop­ping 66 percent of shoppers agreed to purchase at least one of the DVD players when two options were shown.

When buyers are presented with only a single product or service, they rarely feel confident enough to make a positive buying decision and will want to look at alternatives. The reason is because of single-option aver­sion. This heuristic causes the brain to assign more risk to a decision when there is only one option in a choice set. Without something similar to com­pare a product or service to, the brain struggles to identify value and the decision-making process will often stall.

On the other hand, when the brain is shown competing alternatives, it will automatically assess each and select the best. This evaluation drasti­cally reduces the perception of risk and the fear of making a poor decision. When presenting your products or services, always give buyers a few options. Doing so will make it easier for their brains to arrive at a decision.

David Hoffeld
David Hoffeld, Science-Based Sales Trainer & Author of The Science of Selling

David Hoffeld is the author of the acclaimed book The Science of Selling and the CEO and chief sales trainer at the research-based sales and consulting firm, Hoffeld Group. He is a sales and leadership contributor to Fast Company and has been featured in Fortune, U.S. News and World Report, The Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, CBS Radio and Fox News Radio. To learn more about his science-backed sales strategies visit:

Thank you David!


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