Choice Set Size Shapes Self-Expression

Nathan N. Cheek, Barry Schwartz, Eldar Shafir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Across six studies (total N = 3,549), we find that participants who were randomly assigned to choose from larger assortments thought their choices were more self-expressive, an effect that emerged regardless of whether larger sets actually enabled participants to better satisfy their preferences. Studies examining the moderating role of choice domain and cultural context show that the effect of choice set size on perceived self-expression may be particular to contexts in which choices have some initial potential to express choosers’ identities. We then test novel predictions from this theoretical perspective, finding that self-expression mediates the effect of choice set size on choice satisfaction, the likelihood of publicly sharing choices, and the perceived importance of choices. Together, these studies show that choice set size shapes perceived self-expression and illustrate how this meaning-based theoretical lens provides both novel explanations for existing effects and novel predictions for future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)267-281
Number of pages15
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology


  • assortment size
  • choice
  • choice set size
  • preferences
  • self-expression


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