The Paradox of Choice
Whether we’re buying a pair of jeans, selecting a long-distance carrier, choosing a doctor, or setting up a 401(k), everyday decisions―from the mundane to the profound challenges of balancing career, family, and individual needs―have become increasingly complex due to the overwhelming abundance of choice with which we are presented. We assume that more choice means better options and greater satisfaction. But beware of choice overload: it can make you question the decisions you make before you even make them, it can set you up for unrealistically high expectations, and it can make you blame yourself for any and all failures. In The Paradox of Choice, Barry Schwartz explains why too much of a good thing has proven detrimental to our psychological and emotional well-being. Synthesizing current research in the social sciences, he makes the counterintuitive case that eliminating choices can greatly reduce the stress, anxiety, and busyness of our lives. In accessible, engaging, and anecdotal prose, he offers practical steps for how to limit choices to a manageable number, have the discipline to focus on the important ones and ignore the rest, and, ultimately, derive greater satisfaction from the choices you do make. The Paradox of Choice.
From Publishers Weekly
Like Thoreau and the band Devo, psychology professor Schwartz provides ample evidence that we are faced with far too many choices on a daily basis, providing an illusion of a multitude of options when few honestly different ones actually exist. The conclusions Schwartz draws will be familiar to anyone who has flipped through 900 eerily similar channels of cable television only to find that nothing good is on. Whether choosing a health-care plan, choosing a college class or even buying a pair of jeans, Schwartz, drawing extensively on his own work in the social sciences, shows that a bewildering array of choices floods our exhausted brains, ultimately restricting instead of freeing us. We normally assume in America that more options (“easy fit” or “relaxed fit”?) will make us happier, but Schwartz shows the opposite is true, arguing that having all these choices actually goes so far as to erode our psychological well-being. Part research summary, part introductory social sciences tutorial, part self-help guide, this book offers concrete steps on how to reduce stress in decision making. Some will find Schwartz’s conclusions too obvious, and others may disagree with his points or find them too repetitive, but to the average lay reader, Schwartz’s accessible style and helpful tone is likely to aid the quietly desperate.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. –This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Who woulda thunk it? Here we are, in the early years of the twenty-first century, being driven bonkers by the staggering array of consumer goods from which we must choose. Choosing something as (seemingly) simple as shampoo can force us to wade through dozens, even hundreds, of brands. We are, the author suggests, overwhelmed by choice, and that’s not such a good thing. Schwartz tells us that constantly being asked to make choices, even about the simplest things, forces us to “invest time, energy, and no small amount of self-doubt, and dread.” There comes a point, he contends, at which choice becomes debilitating rather than liberating. Did I make the right choice? Can I ever make the right choice? It would be easy to write off this book as merely an extended riff on that well-worn phrase “too much of a good thing,” but that would be a mistake. Despite a tendency toward highfalutin language (“the counterfactuals we construct can be tilted upward”), Schwartz has plenty of insightful things to say here about the perils of everyday life. David Pitt
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved –This text refers to the Paperback edition.
The TED presentation