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The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less Hardcover – January 6, 2004
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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.
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
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Top Customer Reviews
~ Barry Schwartz from The Paradox of Choice
Barry Schwartz is a Professor of Social Theory and Social Action at Swarthmore College and this book is packed with Big Ideas on how, as the sub-title suggests, "the culture of abundance robs us of satisfaction."
In short, we now have so many options that we're suffering.
"I believe we make the most of our freedoms by learning to make good choices about the things that matter, while at the same time unburdening ourselves from too much concern about the things that don't."
"We can imagine a point at which the options would be so copious that even the world's most ardent supporters of freedom of choice would begin to say, "enough already." Unfortunately, that point of revulsion seems to recede endlessly into the future."
Here are some of the Big Ideas:
1. Gratitude = happy with choices
2. Being Seduced - By branding. We all are.
3. Maximizers vs. Satisficers - Huge idea.
4. Perfectionism - Tends to go with maximizing.
5. Domain Specificity - Maximizing is domain specific.
To find 250+ more reviews visit http://bit.ly/BrianReviews
Four and Half Stars- Must Read for anyone interested in "decision making"
A fantastic book on why more is less (or less is more). It is a fantastic essay on how the culture of abundance robs us of satisfaction in life, and more importantly bring in depression. It shares enough case studies and examples of why more is less, and how to increase satisfaction life.
Key Idea: Giving people too many choices tends to lessen their satisfaction.
“Maximizers” are people who, given a choice, will exhaustively search all the options, seeking all possible information, in order to make the best possible choice. This behavior generally consumes a lot of time, and often leads to nagging doubts, perhaps where no one clear winner emerged.
“Satisficers” are those who settle for a choice that is “good enough” for them These people are generally happier with their choice, and spend less time choosing, leaving them free to enjoy other things.
1. We are better of if we embraced voluntary constrains of choice on our freedom of choice, instead of rebelling against in thme
2. We are better off when we choose good enough instead of seeking the best
3. Lower your expectations about the results of your decisions
4. We are better off if our decisions are irreverseable
5. We are better off if we paid less attention to what others do around us
Summary of the book by Chapter:
Lets go shopping: Every area of our life from the super market to the education market offers way too much choice.
New Choice: Filtering our extraneous information is the key function of consciousnesses.
Deciding and Choosing: Figure your goals out, rank them, evaluate options and their likelyhood to meet goals, pick winning option .
Growth of options and opportunities means decisions require more effort, mistakes are more likely and psychological ocnsequence of mistakes is more severe.
When Only The Best Will Do: When you seek and only the best will do you are a MAXIMIZER. When you seek the good enough and not worry about consequences you are a SATISFIER.
Maximizers tend to: make more product comparisons, take longer to decide, compare their decisions to others, experience more regret that others, feel less positive about their decisions.
Choice & happiness: Every choice we make is a testament to our autonomy. The choice of when to be a chooser may be the most important choice we have to make. The more control people have, the less helpless they feel, the less depressed they will be.
Time spent with dealing with choice is time spent away from being in life.
Some constrain can afford liberty, while freedom will bring enslavement, it is wise to choose the the constrains.
Missed opportunities: Examine opportunity costs - more the choices, we diminish our subjective experience of benefits, thus we are worse off.
When people have too many options and trade offs, they avoid making decisions options we consider usually suffer from companions with other options
One reason why maximizers are less happy, less satisfied with their lives, and more depressed than satisfiers is precisely because the taint of tradeoffs and opportunity costs washes out much that hshould be satisfying about the decisions they make.
The Problem of Regret: Two factors affect regret a) personal responsibility for the result b) how easily we can imagine the counter factual better alternative.
Regret looms more for the maximizer than the satisfier.
Everything suffers from Comparisons: Curse fof high expectations, curse of social comparisons due to race for status,
Maximizers are more concerned with social comparisons than satisfiers. Increasing available options seems to usually reduce satisfaction.
Whose Fault is it?:Helplessness induced by failure or lack of control causes depression. Depression more common when only the best will do.
What to do about Choice?:
1)Choose when to choose.- think of cost associated with decisions.
2) Be a chooser not a picker -
3)Satisfy more, maximize less
4)Think about opportunity costs of opportunity costs - dont be swayed by new and improved
5) Make decisions non reversible
6) Practice an attitude of gratitude
8) Anticipate adaptation - focus on how things are as opposed to as they were
9) Control expectations
10) Avoid social comparisons
11)Learn to love constrains
This book is worth the read, to hammer home the point of embracing a satisfaction based life, and how to learn to love constrains. BUY THIS BOOK, which was voted as a TOP 10 book for the year by Business Week to understand why" less is more, and how to increase the satisfaction in your life."