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Paradox of Choice, The Paperback – Illustrated, April 28, 2016
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“An insightful study that winningly argues its subtitle.” (Philadelphia Inquirer)
“Schwartz lays out a convincing argument.... [He] is a crisp, engaging writer with an excellent sense of pace.” (Austin American-Statesman)
“Schwartz offers helpful suggestions of how we can manage our world of overwhelming choices.” (St. Petersburg Times)
“Wonderfully readable.” (Washington Post)
“Schwartz has plenty of insightful things to say about the perils of everyday life.” (Booklist)
“With its clever analysis, buttressed by sage New Yorker cartoons, The Paradox of Choice is persuasive.” (BusinessWeek)
From the Back Cover
“Absorbing, witty, and persuasive.”—BusinessWeek Top 10 Business Books of 2004
“Brilliant. . . . The case Schwartz makes for a correlation between our emotional state and what he calls the ‘tyranny of choice’ is compelling, the implications disturbing. . . . An insightful book.”—Christian Science Monitor
“A revolutionary and beautifully reasoned book about the promiscuous amount of choice that renders the consumer helpless. A must-read.”—Martin Seligman, author of Authentic Happiness
Whether we’re buying a pair of jeans, ordering coffee, selecting a wireless carrier, applying to college, choosing a doctor, or setting up a 401(k), everyday decisions—both big and small—have become increasingly complex due to the over-whelming abundance of choice. For Americans, choice is the hallmark of individual freedom and self-determination. But having too much choice can actually be detrimental: choice overload can make you question your decisions before you make them, set up unrealistically high expectations, and lead to self-blame for any failure. The result is decision-making paralysis, anxiety, and perpetual stress, and even clinical depression.
In The Paradox of Choice, Barry Schwartz shows how the dramatic explosion in choice—from the mundane to the profound challenges of balancing career, family, and individual needs—has led us to seek that which makes us feel worse. Synthesizing current research, Schwartz makes the counterintuitive case that reducing choices can greatly reduce stress, anxiety, and the frenzy of daily life, and offers eleven practical steps to help you limit choices to a manageable number, focus on the important ones, and ultimately derive greater satisfaction from the choices you have to make.
- Item Weight : 8 ounces
- Paperback : 304 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0062449923
- ISBN-13 : 978-0062449924
- Dimensions : 5.31 x 0.76 x 8 inches
- Publisher : EccoPress; Revised ed. edition (April 28, 2016)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #28,316 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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I don't quite know what to think about this book. It may be that this author has recapitulated something quite profound.
On the one hand, the author does have some extremely valid points, both in:
1. The Logical sense that it is true that an abundance of choices can/ does actually run into diminishing returns-- as too much of anything can run into diminishing returns.
2. The Empirical sense in that reality both past and present are replete with examples of people who do not suffer any harm as a result of having proscribed choices.
***Example #1--In places such as China, choice there is extremely limited for most of life. (Just as one example: proverbs are extremely popular in order to save people the trouble of coming up with new sentences. Or new thoughts.) And yet that society has been there for thousands of years.
***Example #2-- For Orthodox Jewish people, marital choices are made from a very limited set of people. And yet, the divorce rate is lower, and there are many more children per family. It is only when one shifts off into the direction of Modern Orthodoxy that there are fewer successful matches and more divorces because of a greater number of choices. ("A little philosophy inclineth man’s mind to atheism; but depth in philosophy bringeth men’s minds about to religion.")
On the other hand, the question comes up...... "Is it better for an outside force to limit a person's choices? Or, is it something that he is better to do of his own volition?"
The author opts for the latter choice.
There is heavy borrowing of /citation from the Daniel Kahneman book "Thinking, Fast and Slow." (That was a good book, but probably a little bit too long to reread and so the recapitulation of those points from that text in this one are quite valuable.)
I'm almost tempted to say that the graph that is placed on page 70 in the book is the synopsis of the entire Kahneman book).
In some ways, this book is a lot of what we already have read many times before: 1)No, human beings are not calculators; 2)Yes, the decisions that they make are inconsistent based on inability to be a calculator.
There's a lot of interesting discussion on maximizers versus satisficers. And how there is that tried-and-true personality type that will never allow a decision to come to an end. As in, they keep re-evaluating what they do have against what they could have had.
There is also interesting discussion about the specific cases in which it becomes too hard to make a decision. And regrets of omission vs commission.
Is "regret management" something in which a person could train himself?
Schwartz certainly thinks so, even going so far as to offer us a list:
1. Choose when to choose
2. Be a choose and not a picker
3. Satisfice more, maximize less
4. Think about the costs of missed opportunities
5. Make decisions nonreversible
6. Practice an attitude of gratitude
7. Regret less
8. Anticipate adaptation
9. Control expectations
11. Embrace constraints
Verdict: Worth the time and worth the price. ($8.55 with shipping.)
The problem with this book is that the author made his point in the first chapter and then took the concept too far. For example, he begins by arguing that Americans would be happier if government gave us fewer options. Schooling is one example he cites. Apparently - in his mind - parents these days are overwhelmed by the number of schooling options they have to consider. Private? Public? Charter? I just can't handle all these options! Or so he thinks. The reality is that millions of parents in America wish they had more and better educational options for their precious kids. Instead, millions of kids are stuck in failing public schools.
In any case, I returned this book.
This book is easy to understand and examines the ripples of even our most basic choices in the marketplace. You go to buy a pair of jeans and behavioral psychology, evolution, consumerism, economics, social and cultural influences, and cost/benefit ratios are suddenly in play.
How many times have you thought, “Good grief! When is enough enough?” Or “Can’t I just go into a store and find a basic ....” Yes, there can be too many choices, and there are plenty of negatives to having them. This book shines a light on the (likely) unconscious choices we make and the after effects. It will continue to affect how you think long after you finish reading.
Top reviews from other countries
His research says that people differ along a continuum between 'maximizers' and 'satisficers.' Maximizers tend to spend much more mental effort in making the absolute correct choices, and especially for them the abundance of choice can be debilitating. This part was interesting, and it gave me some insight into why I'm not so affected by the abundance of choice, and why others are. I'm a 'satisficer'; I don't stress much over any little choice. I don't worry much if my choices are absolutely perfect. Sometimes good is good enough.
But ultimately, the rest is somewhat forgettable. Not horrible, just not incredibly interesting either. The book is OK, not amazing. For people who constantly worry about every little thing they do, this book could be recommended, because it does give some tips on how to deal with that. But that's not me.
The book is written from the point of view of a person who is very concerned and disturbed by what's going on with information flood that we as a consumers face. Still, there are serious implications for business, so it seems legitimate to view the book as an inspiring piece for marketing and advertising professionals as well. It will remind them, or should I say remind us, we do not work in vacuum, and what we do influences life of people and societies, sometimes in a very negative way. So while far away from simplistic, demagogic diagnosis blaming modern economy and especially marketing for all the evils of the world, it is calling for a serious reflection. That's my view. And it is surely biased as I guess the word "marketing" does not appear even once in the book. Never the less, please read it marketers and it will make you look at your job from a different angle.