More than once I've set out on a shopping mission and realized, after trying on the 12th pair of jeans, shorts, shoes, etc.
In one experiment, researchers found that more "matches" were made if subjects had eight potential partners to choose from than if they had 20.
My brain has gone into decision fatigue, and all I want to do; indeed, all I have the ability to do, is go home. In her recent book The Art of Choosing, Columbia University business professor Sheena Iyengar cites numerous research studies that indicate an inverse relationship between choice and the ability to decide.
In the late 1990s, for example, she and colleagues conducted an experiment in a high-end food store in California.
Faced with a entire aisle full of toothpaste options—one whitening, one brightening, one with extra sensitivity, and one with extra fluoride and baking soda ingredients—their eyes glaze over and they stare, circuit-fried and numb, unable to choose or buy anything.
Even without the Peace Corps background, it's a consumer experience I can relate to very well.