Hick's law

Synonyms: paradox of choice

Hick's law states that the time it takes a person to make a decision depends on the choices available to him or her or they, etc. Increasing the number of choices will increase the decision time logarithmically.


Hick's law



Hick’s law, or the Hick–Hyman Law, is named after British and American psychologists William Edmund Hick and Ray Human. In 1952, they decided to study the dependence between the number of stimuli  and an individual’s reaction time to any of them. As a result of the study, Hick and Hyman found that, the more stimuli to choose from, the longer it takes the person to decide on which one to interact with.



Reduce the number of choices when response time is critical to increase decision time. For example, this is important for control system environments.


Hick's law


Break down complex and long processes into smaller steps to reduce cognitive load. For example, you can divide the user registration process into several screens. It will make the interface more user friendly.


Keep a balance between reducing complexity and oversimplifying. Breaking down the choices for a series of lots of small chunks can make the user to leave before reaching the goal.


Hick's law


Use the highlighting to help users to avoid overloading and to make a choice quicker. You can stand out important options for users among the cluttered interface.


Hick's law


Categorize choice to navigate users in website. If one menu offers direct access to every link, it could quickly overload the user.

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