The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less, Revised Edition

Front Cover
Harper Collins, Oct 13, 2009 - Psychology - 304 pages
29 Reviews

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.

 

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
9
4 stars
11
3 stars
8
2 stars
1
1 star
0

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - thebradking - LibraryThing

I don't think there's much new psychology research in this book, but it's written in an easy-to-read manner. It's particularly worthwhile for those of us who build things in the digital world (and, of course, for anyone who wonders why they are anxious about the choices they make.) Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - elliepotten - LibraryThing

I had such high hopes for this book. I was expecting it to focus largely on consumer culture, and to have some profound 'light bulb' moments that would really make me stop and think. Not that it didn ... Read full review

All 6 reviews »

Contents

A Road
1
New Choices
28
HOW WE CHOOSE
45
when only the Best will Do
77
Choice and Happiness
99
Missed opportunities
117
If only The Problem of regret
147
Why Everything Suffers from Comparison
181
Whose Fault Is It? Choice
201
What to Do About Choice
221
Copyright

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2009)

Barry Schwartz is the Dorwin Cartwright Professor of Social Theory and Social Action at Swarthmore College. He is the author of several books, including Practical Wisdom: The Right Way to Do the Right Thing, with Kenneth Sharpe, and Why We Work. His articles have appeared in many of the leading journals in his field, including American Psychologist.

Bibliographic information