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Maybe I'm too burnt, but I can't come with the answer to this. I don't mean Overchoice, but the concept of choices or options that are similarly validated by peers creating a friction to user.

To be more clear: let's say UserJohn has to pick between 3 options. These options have been voted (or liked or whatever) by their friends or social circles.

Now, Option 1 has 10 votes, Option 2 has 9 votes and Option 3 has 10 votes as well.

There's an obvious friction here since UserJohn will be faced with these scenarios:

  • he won't be able to select a choice by their peer's approval
  • his decision can tie a voting (if he chooses option 2) or he can define an election (choosing any of Option 1 or 3)
  • whether or not his decision is known, UserJohn will feel a degree of pressure (to be determined)

I'm fully aware of Asch Paradigm and Conformity Experiments, but I don't think this paradigm fully embraces what I'm looking for. However, it seems to me it has to be a pretty common concept and it's just me losing something, so looking for any help

EDIT:

To help visualize how common this is, another user case: let's say as an user I want to buy a product at Amazon and after searching I get 2 or 2 very similar products, so I'm undecided based on the product specs/descriptions. Thus I decide to use social validation (number of votes in this case just to have an easy to measure and quantifiable dimension) and then I realize all the products I found all have the same amount of votes, making my choice really difficult.

This is something that happens thousands of times a day, so I'm sure it's really common (Note: I asked the UX Director for the biggest e-commerce store in my country/region and he acknowledged this common behavior happening many many times a day, but didn't have an exact name for it either, just vague terms such as friction and indecision)

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    Interesting! Probably you could get answers here: cogsci.stackexchange.com It will also be interesting to know, if this could lead to decision regret later on. – Amit Jain Dec 18 '15 at 7:21
  • I don't know what to call it but I would suggest offering a feature comparison chart to assist users to make a choice. – Yvonne Aburrow Dec 22 '15 at 10:45
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I looked up Social validation on Wikipedia and was redirected to Normative social influence.

Latane's social impact theory posits that three factors influence the extent to which we conform to group norms: personal importance, immediacy, and size. As the group becomes more important to a person, physically closer to him/her, and larger in number, Social Impact Theory predicts that conformity to group norms will increase. However, the size of the group only affects conformity to an extent—as a group expands past 3-5 members, the effect levels off.

So I wonder if the fact that option 1 and option 3 have a similar number of votes might be offset by the similarity of the users choosing those options, e.g. if the user making the selection is geeky, they may look for clues to see if the others users selecting the particular option are also geeks.

Personally I would stop looking for social validation for my choices, and go to the feature comparison chart (but then I am a geek... YMMV).

As to what to call the situation where two options have the same number of votes: since there doesn't seem to be a term for it, how about calling it social parity?

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