The Psychology of Everyday Life: Motivation and the Search For Happiness

The Psychology of Money

How does chunking influence our decision making?

As was first pointed out by George Miller in 1956, we are capable of keeping only seven plus or minus two pieces of information in mind at a time. In order to expand the capacity of our memory, we group information into larger chunks. This is useful until we forget that the larger chunks were originally made up of smaller units. For example, as documented in a 2006 study by Andrew Geier, Paul Rozin, and Gheorghe Doros, people will eat more pieces of candy when using a large scoop than when using a smaller scoop. Further, as noted in Jonathon Lehrer’s 2009 book on decision making, it is also well recognized that people will eat more food when their portion sizes or plates are larger. Instead of counting how many pieces of candy or ounces of food they are consuming, people count number of scoops or plates of food. When fast food restaurants offer jumbo-size servings they are taking advantage of this tendency.


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