With an endless choice of viewing, it seems to be increasingly difficult to decide on what to watch. A survey by Currys, the British electrical and electronics retailer, suggests that viewers spend up to half an hour a day deciding what to watch. For those that watch daily it adds up to over 180 hours or over a complete week every year lost in choice paralysis.

Dr George Fieldman, a chartered psychologist, explains that finding something to watch is full of risk. “What you watch is a significant investment of time and people don’t want to make the wrong choice. It has to be worthwhile to justify spending that time which could be spent elsewhere.”

Choice paralysis describes the phenomenon that we may have such a tough time choosing between option A or B that we pick option C or do nothing at all.

This phenomenon can stem from various factors, including fear of missing out on something better, worrying about making the wrong choice, or simply feeling overwhelmed by too much choice.

The survey found that nearly 60% of respondents reported that after endless scrolling they abandon their search and ultimately decide not to watch anything.

So, what are the factors that drive choice? According to the Currys survey, 70% of respondents want to have a whole series available to watch, rather than waiting for it week by week.

The plot is the most important factor when picking a drama, with 47% of respondents prioritising a captivating narrative over everything else. After that comes the case, with 41% says that it plays an important role in picking what to watch. Third and fourth come genre and reviews, at 40% and 31% respectively.

Having invested time in deciding what to watch, over a third of respondents will only give a series 20 minutes to decide if it is worth more of their time, with the average being just 34 minutes. With movies it is even less, with an average decision time of a mere 30 minutes.

The psychologist suggests several tips for conquering choice paralysis.

The first is to explore and identify the reasons that may make you anxious about making a choice. This could be a fear of wasting time or missing out on something better.

Secondly, ask yourself whether the goal is to watch something good or to have a good time with the people you are with. The two do not have to go hand in hand. Sometimes it may be more about spending time with someone.

Thirdly, be realistic in your expectations. Not every programme or movie will be the perfect fit. Enjoy the process of picking something and watching it rather than fixating on the outcome.

Finally, try setting a time limit on the time taken to make a decision. This can help prevent analysis paralysis and encourage you to trust your instincts more.

Also, remember that the majority of surveys that you read online are advertising something. In this case a particular brand of televisions. You can search in vain for the methodology or the numbers behind the reported results.

That said, the pop psychology reveals some important insights into how people make their viewing choices and why they may end up watching what they watch.

We hear a lot about changes in viewing behaviour, but this is still not widely studied or understood.

As informitv wrote in a report many years ago on Why we watch television, the reasons we watch television may be social and emotional as much as to do with the programmes we watch. We want comfort and familiarity, to feel that we are among friends, to be connected to the wider world, or to experience excitement or explore worlds beyond our immediate existence. Understanding these needs is the key to future of television.