Children and Choice

I just read some worthwhile research about children and choice. One group of kids was asked to draw a picture, choosing a marker from 3 possibilities. A second group could choose one from 24 colors.  An elementary school teacher, not knowing the point of the experiment, was asked to rate the pictures and decided that the ‘worst’ pictures were produced, by and large, from the 24-color group.  In the second stage of the experiment, the researchers allowed the children to pick 1 marker from their set to keep as a gift. Once the children had chosen, the researchers tried to persuade them to give back the marker in exchange for other gifts. The children who had chosen from 24 colors returned the marker more easily.

 The researchers believe that making a choice from fewer alternative had 2 benefits: 1. the children focused one their drawing producing better work and 2. the children committed more strongly to their  original choice.

The motto of this story: Perhaps we are making mistakes when we provide our children with a world of choices.  People get more satisfaction from working hard on one thing; if you always keep your options open and can change your mind, you look for perfection and that impossible search never ends.

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