The Paradox of Choice

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Harper Collins, Oct 13, 2009 - Psychology - 304 pages
515 Reviews

In the spirit of Alvin Toffler’s Future Shock, a social critique of our obsession with choice, and how it contributes to anxiety, dissatisfaction and regret. This paperback includes a new P.S. section with author interviews, insights, features, suggested readings, and more.

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.

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 counterintuitive 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 the important ones and ignore the rest, and ultimately derive greater satisfaction from the choices you have to make.


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Well researched and engaging. - Goodreads
The problem is the writing. - Goodreads
Easy to read, but lacking structure. - Goodreads
Good book, it's a good premise. - Goodreads
Good intro to the topic of choices and happiness. - Goodreads
Very informative and well-researched. - Goodreads

Review: The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less

User Review  - Melissa - Goodreads

4.5—Really interesting book! I wish, though, that it had an updated version. I would love to see new data and updated information from the last decade. The author gives plenty of data that having ... Read full review

Review: The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less

User Review  - Vibhor - Goodreads

One of the best books read in a long time. Must read for everyone. Gives you a perspective and direction in the mess created by abundance of choice in modern life. Read full review

All 6 reviews »


A Road Map i
Lets Co Shopping
New Choices
Deciding and Choosing
When Only the Best Will Do
Choice and Happiness
Missed Opportunities
If OnlyThe Problem of Regret
The Problem of Adaptation
Why Everything Suffers from Comparison
Whose Fault Is It? Choice Disappointment and Depression
What to Do About Choice

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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 The Battle for Human Nature: Science, Morality and Modern Life and The Costs of Living: How Market Freedom Erodes the Best Things in Life. His articles have appeared in many of the leading journals in his field, including the American Psychologist. He lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

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