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The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less Hardcover – January 6, 2004
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Whether we're buying a pair of jeans, ordering a cup of coffee, selecting a long-distance 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 overwhelming abundance of choice with which we are presented.
As Americans, we assume that more choice means better options and greater satisfaction. But beware of excessive choice: choice overload 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 long run, this can lead to decision-making paralysis, anxiety, and perpetual stress. And, in a culture that tells us that there is no excuse for falling short of perfection when your options are limitless, too much choice can lead to clinical depression.
In The Paradox of Choice, Barry Schwartz explains at what point choice -- the hallmark of individual freedom and self-determination that we so cherish -- becomes detrimental to our psychological and emotional well-being. In accessible, engaging, and anecdotal prose, Schwartz shows how the dramatic explosion in choice -- from the mundane to the profound challenges of balancing career, family, and individual needs -- has paradoxically become a problem instead of a solution. Schwartz also shows how our obsession with choice encourages us to seek that which makes us feel worse.
By synthesizing current research in the social sciences, Schwartz makes the counter intuitive case that eliminating choices can greatly reduce the stress, anxiety, and busyness of our lives. He offers eleven practical steps on how to limit choices to a manageable number, have the discipline to focus on those that are important and ignore the rest, and ultimately derive greater satisfaction from the choices you have to make.
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~ 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."
In terms of concepts I liked the positive versus negative language "discount on cash" vs "surcharge on credit". There are many occasions when I felt we were making the customer aware and doing a favour, not realising that using such a straight language may just be bad marketing.
The endowment effect is also a good insight for marketeers, bundle more and give an option for customers to remove than do the reverse.
However, as the book progresses, i felt too many concepts were being brought in, thus making me lose track of the same. And too many studies to support them - get confused too often between the correlation and causuality. By the last chapter, it almost reads like a gospel or a guide towards nirvana - satisfice more and maximise less. I am not sure that many would agree unless you are already a satisficer.
In summary, the book starts with an interest concept , but gets lost somewhere in between and shifts to a different orbit by the end.