- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: Harper Perennial; New edition edition (January 18, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0060005696
- ISBN-13: 978-0060005696
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 352 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #375,896 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less Paperback – January 18, 2005
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“Brilliant.... The case Schwartz makes... is compelling, the implications disturbing.... An insightful book.” (Christian Science Monitor)
“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
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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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.)
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."