Review of The Paradox of Choice

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Rating

9

Qualities

  • Applicable
  • Engaging
  • Inspiring

Review

Barry Schwartz’s penetrating analysis of the problematic consequences of having too many choices may spur you to rethink how you approach decisions in your life. Schwartz, a psychology professor, unpacks cognitive quirks and psychological challenges the human mind brings to decision making. He demonstrates how choice becomes more burdensome when options proliferate. Schwartz uses easy-to-understand, everyday examples and offers techniques for avoiding the pitfalls of too much choice and increasing your satisfaction with your decisions.

About the Author

Barry Schwartz is the Dorwin Cartwright Professor of Social Theory and Social Action at Swarthmore College. He also wrote Why We Work, Practical Wisdom and The Costs of Living.

 

Modern life greatly increases your options.

Schwartz’ book revolves around one crucial, entirely contemporary question: does  a cornucopia of choice make you happier? In recent years, consumers in the United States have spent more time shopping while enjoying it less. The seemingly endless range of options available can be overwhelming. People face increasingly complex decisions around consumer goods and services like cellphone contracts, retirement plans and medical protocols. Additionally, Schwartz posits, they navigate unceasing societal options regarding their working lives, love lives and spiritual lives.

Schwartz describes how American society proclaims a commitment to individual freedom and autonomy and sees choice as a hallmark of liberty – the more choice, the more freedom. But too much choice isn’t so liberating. In fact, Schwartz contends, it can be paralyzing. “As the number of choices we face increases,” the author writes, “freedom of choice eventually becomes tyranny of choice.”


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