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If you wander into any megastore, you’ll find consumer products offered in countless, barely distinguishable varieties. Despite evidence that having too many options leads to poor decisions, Americans continue to revere unlimited choice. Other cultures don’t share this preoccupation and might be better off for it, says researcher Sheena Iyengar. She presents a fun, well-reasoned argument, so getAbstract recommends that you choose to watch this lecture.


As a customer, you have the right to make requests according to your preferences – or so Americans believe. Bring that cultural view to a restaurant in Japan, and you might encounter resistance. Such was the case for researcher Sheena Iyengar, whom the Japanese waitstaff courteously, yet repeatedly, denied sugar for her green tea. From their cultural perspective, they were protecting her from the shame of choosing incorrectly. Three assumptions that inform Americans’ views on choice don’t translate across all cultures:

  1. “If a choice affects you, then you should be the one to make it” – Freedom of...

About the Speaker

Sheena lyengar is S.T. Lee Professor of Business the Management Division at Columbia Business School.

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