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The Art of Choosing Paperback – Bargain Price, March 9, 2011
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Top Customer Reviews
On the positive side, the book is well researched and is particularly strong when discussing cultural differences regarding choice and decision making. It is loaded with a large number of anecdotes and research studies.
On the negative side, after having read the book, I had a hard time outlining the key points or recalling a handful of particularly powerful examples. Despite the author's frequent references to the importance of a "narrative," I struggled to find the narrative in the book.
In a nutshell, when reading this book I felt as though I would have learned a lot if I'd had the opportunity to spend a semester in one of the author's classes, benefitting from a rich give and take of ideas and arguing the interpretations of the various research findings and personal perspectives. However, not enough of that experience came through in the book -- the studies and examples were mostly ones I had read many times before, and the integrating "theory of the case" was not strongly presented.
For discussions of decision making as it relates to economic or business choices, I found "Predictably Irrational" by Dan Ariely of Duke and "The Winner's Curse" by Richard Thaler of Princeton to be more valuable than "The Art of Choosing." For consumer choice research and issues, Barry Schwartz's "The Paradox of Choice" remains the standard.Read more ›
The latest, and definitely one of the best, is Sheena Iyenga's book, "The Art of Choosing." This book explodes the ideas we have about choice. Did you know that the U.S.A. is the place where choice is valued most highly? In Japan, for instance, people are far more likely to be told where to work and what to wear. Sheena's parents (both Sikhs) had an arranged marriage in India, and there are pictures of the wedding day. Sheena's mother seems to me to be the most beautiful woman in the world (no wonder her husband is laughing at his good fortune).
I knew two Indian programmers that had arranged marriages, but these days the men are in the U.S.A. Relatives back in India contact the parents of suitable women and, in the few weeks of the men's vacation, they go on dates with their "girlfriends," and if all goes well they date some more, until they finally find a compatible partner. This goes against the Western dream of finding a lifetime companion on your own. Apparently millions of people throughout the world manage to find someone, but the spouse is often a co-worker, a co-student, or just one of a circle of friends. We would be shocked if we weren't allowed to choose whoever we wanted to, yet in the current Indian version the women are already expecting to move abroad and to have a nerdy but well-paid husband.
Examples like this proliferate through the book.Read more ›
In summary, the book itself is extremely hard to follow because it does not follow a coherent theme, does not go through some sort of dialectic to prove a point, and seems to meander from one idea to another. The author seems rather intelligent in many ways, so perhaps she needs a better editor. After I was done reading the book, I had a difficult time even remembering some of her examples or a coherent theme.
The first chapter discusses choice in general, and the drive for survival that is often led by choice (some interesting survival stories and lab tests). The next chapter discusses how sometimes lack of choice can make someone happier---arranged marriages tend to be happier long term than marriages of choice. She also found more fundamentalist religions (with more rules) tend to make people more optimistic and happy in general.
The author seems confused in many of her analyses of the modern world, and these serve to further befuddle the theme of her book. She interchangeably refers to collectivism in Europe and Asia, not understanding the Asian focus on family that led to their collectivist society versus the European focus on the state that de-emphasized the family (read Schlafly "Who Will Rock the Cradle"). Both are so amazingly different that her interchangeable use of these themes was incoherent.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Well structured. Thoughtful. And loaded with interesting surprises about the author along the way. Behavioral science meets real life . . . And made interesting!Published 12 days ago by SK
One of the best books I've ever read! Will aid in making better choices for the remainder of my life.Published 3 months ago by Alonzo Vance
That rare astonishing book that is both a value to someone who knows nothing about the topic – and someone, like I, a professor of law who studies negotiation and choice and knows... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Clark Freshman
In addition to the subject matter, there are some fascinating personal details. I really wish the author had a straight memoir. I'd read that in a second. Great writing.Published 5 months ago by Michael Wallace
This book provide great reflections and ideas about what choose means. It's very interesting to observe that a lot of things that we do without thinking has deeply consequences in... Read morePublished 9 months ago by Eder Sa A Campos
I lot of interesting info.. but I was expecting a different read.. Stopped reading after 30% of the book because all the statistical info after a while just became boring. Read morePublished 9 months ago by g