Research 7: When more is more: Understanding Children’s Choice Process – Report

Posted on: Friday 03 July 2015 3:41pm by Jelena Stosic


  • Analysis paralysis occurs when we are presented with too many choices: we analyse which option will give us the best return, but then often over-analyse, get frustrated and may not even make a choice.
  • Adults suffer from option paralysis, but children do not. For them, choosing is far simpler, and the abundance of options that would confuse the adult population thrills them.
  • When creating content or when presenting it to children, think: more is more.
  • At the same time, the that work with adults, such as recommendations, trending and various other categorisation systems, do not work in the same way for children – who care about their own and the experience of their immediate friends.


Maurice Wheeler, Strategy Partner at the Little Big Partnership, presented a research piece shedding light on children’s choice process. The findings are based on qualitative sessions with 36 children aged 6-11.

Maurice first reminded us all that, as adults, we also struggle with choice. Which session of the CMC to attend? Which phone to buy? We’ll take in many different variables, try and make a right decision and maximise our satisfaction, our return. And this analysis process can make choice frustrating.

He told us of the Jam Experiment: in it, a researcher had a selection of either 6 or 24 jams on a stand in a supermarket, and whilst the stand of 24 jams attracted more visitors, people were 10 times more likely to buy when the choice was smaller. This is known as the choice paradox. Less is more.


The Little Big Partnership, however, explored the children’s choice process and found that for them – the paradox doesn’t apply. More is more. Having played on computers with 1 incredibly good game, 5 games and 45 mini-games, and asked which computer they would like to come back to, the majority of children chose the computer with the most games – even if they were not the best ones.

They were most likely to recommend this web-site to a friend, and when asked how to improve the ones that they did not select to come back to, the universal vote went to: add more games. “Add more” is what they were in agreement about, especially towards the younger end of the age group.

Maurice finds scientific back-up in children’s development, and in the fact that their pre-frontal cortex, at the very young age, is not yet sufficiently developed for them to embark on the analysis process that adults would embark on. Therefore, the cognitive load of decision making is lesser for children than it is for grown-ups and for that reason, they will indulge in abundance of options, where we would cry in misery.

Maurice also reports that, in this study, children did not take online recommendations into account when making entertainment choices and, in many respects, did not need or want these cues that grown-ups so often use to help make a decision. In the words of a girl in the research sessions: “I recommend my own recommendation.”

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Jelena Stosic

About the author

Jelena Stosic

The Little Big Partnership, Associate

Jelena is an Associate at The Little Big Partnership, a marketing consultancy focused on engaging children and family audiences. She has been working on audience research and analysis for over five years, bringing her insights to clients such as Xbox, Oxfam, Tottenham Hotspur, Unilever and The Little White Company. Jelena… Read more