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The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less

3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  13,397 ratings  ·  744 reviews
In the spirit of Alvin Toffler’sFuture 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, app
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Paperback, 265 pages
Published January 18th 2005 by Harper Perennial (first published December 22nd 2003)
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Laurie
Sep 03, 2007 Laurie rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who like those kinds of books that Malcolm Gladwell writes
I have a lot of issues with this book but, to be fair, I actually reference it in conversation all the time. I think it's worth a skim but most of it's kind of common sense.

Schwartz makes approximately seven interesting points but he makes them repeatedly for some 230-odd pages. Sometimes he makes the same point in different ways and sometimes he makes the same point in the same way. During an especially repetitive section, I actually suspected that there'd been a printing error and I'd accident
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Cameron
Maybe I don't read enough Psychology, but I thought this book was fantastic. Swarthmore Psychology professor Barry Schwartz's basic thesis is that the world is divided into two types of person: maximizers, who want to find the absolute best option, and satisficers who want to find something that is good enough and not worry that something better might be out there. He also links maximizing to the high and increasing incidence of clinical depression in the developed world and believes that satisf ...more
Edward
Really important book for me. Refers to some great research. Some highlights:

Prologue:
- “choice no longer liberates, but debilitates” -“choice overload”
- we’d be better off if we embraced some limits on choice instead of rebelling, by seeking “good enough” rather than the best, by lowering our expectations about our decisions, by making our decisions nonreversible, and by not comparing ourselves to others as much

I. When We Choose
1. Let’s Go Shopping
- 30% of people bought from the small sample o
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Jeff
The Paradox of Choice is a 236 page treatises on why too much choice can be debilitating. It can be summed up in its sub-sub-title: "Why the Culture of Abundance Robs Us of Satisfaction." (Why a book needs a sub-title under the sub-title beats me). The problem is that we spend too much time and energy trying to make choices that in the grand scheme of things don't matter that much. I agree with the big idea, but I hated the book and here's why:

Schwartz could have made his point in a fine three
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Donna
Dec 08, 2007 Donna rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Those interested in behavior and decision-making
In The Paradox of Choice, Schwartz focuses on two basic ways of making decisions: maximizing (trying to make the very best possible choice) and satisficing (making a choice that will do well enough, all things considered).

In the past, I've thought of these two approaches in terms of the decisions that need to be made, not in terms of the person making them. For example, when picking a spouse or a house, one may want to take a lot of time and make the best possible decision. When selecting a rest
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Nicholas Karpuk
Apr 10, 2009 Nicholas Karpuk rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: You
"The Paradox of Choice" is a simple book in many ways. It shows that there's concrete data backing up many of the "well duh" platitudes people regularly dismiss while making terrible life choices.

The book was a revelation for me, since it related a lot to the culture of worry and second guessing I grew up with. Part exploration of our society of excessive options and the misery they seem to cause our inhabitants, and part self-help guide, it's the opposite of "True Enough", it's a book that rath
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Gordon

This is one of those books that, once you've read it, permanently shifts your perspective. It made me think altogether differently about the value of having MORE choices. As the author argues, your sense of well-being increases when you go from having no choices to having a few choices. But as you go from having a few choices to having many choices, your happiness typically goes down. Why? Because it's time-consuming and stressful to choose between all those alternatives! You become fearful of m
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Sean Engelhardt
Five stars not for the writing but for the overall content. He could have said everything he needed to say in a few-page article, and it's pretty redundant. But it's still a really quick read so what's the harm...

There are so many things in here that are so interesting and apply to tons of situations and decisions every day. Things that people constantly do to themselves without thinking, and could be so much happier if they knew they were doing it. I am basically recommending that everyone I kn
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Darwin8u
A solid survey of the behavioral economics literature related to the premise that the wide range of choices we have (what to read, how to read it, what rating to give it, where to post our review) actually ends up making us unhappier (tyranny of small decisions). Schwartz's summary is similar to a lot of those pop-economic books that seem to pop up regularly and sell quite well because they both tell us something we kinda already suspected, but also gently surprise us with counter-intuitive idea ...more
Hilary
This book explained so much about the way I behave -- I am a total maximizer, meaning that whenever I have a choice to make, I always want the absolute best option, even if researching to discover the best option is hard and time-consuming. Instead, I could be a satisficer: someone who picks the option that satisfies all their requirements, without worrying whether something better is out there. Schwartz shows persuasively that maximizers are less happy than satisficers. This book helped me unde ...more
Kristi Thielen
Barry Schwartz is chiefly concerned with explaining that an abundance of opportunities - especially for material goods - can actually decrease happiness and that "maximizers," - people in relentless pursuit of the best of all things and agonized by the fear that their decision might be the wrong one - would be better off as "satisficers," - people who discipline themselves to consider only a limited range of options and then make a firm decision and get on with life.

Learn to accept "good enough
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Erika RS
Schwartz describes how having an excessive amount of choice in our lives can bring unhappiness and suffering. He describes some of the many sources of choices in modern life, some psychological factors relating to choice making, how choices can cause unhappiness, and some techniques for dealing with this unhappiness.

First of all, Schwartz emphasizes that choice is good. It is vital to happiness. However, he claims that in the here and now of the 21st century US, we are overwhelmed with choices,
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Travis
The Paradox of Choice includes dozens of insights and studies that theorize that Americans are less happy in part because of their over abundance of choice. The first 50 pages set up this theory in exhausting detail. I was ready to give up. After passing through the lengthy intro, I found the studies to support something I have been thinking about for several years. When I'm faced with many choices - I frequently choose not to choose anything. I also seem much less satisfied with my choice after ...more
Mitch
An important book and one that spoke to my personal development. There are so many choices in today's world that can be overwhelming. At times, I find myself stressed out by choices... this book showed me that I am most definitely not alone. It also gave me tools I can use to make choices in a healthier way. For example, Schwartz loosely places people into two categories: Maximizers & Satisficers. Maximizers want to make the "best" choice in every possible situation: Career, relationships, m ...more
Naomi
Since I minister in a religious movement where demands for choices and customized religious experiences can sometimes seem like our purpose for being, I was particularly curious about Schwartz's research and what he found. His work is part of the larger psychological challenge by Martin Seligman for psychology to better understand health and serve that, and not to be so focused on disease (creating a situation where the definition of "health" was based on assumptions that might turn out not to b ...more
Mangoo
La proliferazione apparentemente illimitata di opzioni che la societa' occidentale offre attualmente in risposta a scelte - banali e serie - sarebbe forse stata un sogno per le precedenti generazioni, che vi avrebbero visto la materializzazione di un loro sogno. Schwartz argomenta al contrario che dietro questa liberta' si nascondono pesanti insidie.
Certamente avere a disposizione piu' di una opzione per ogni scelta e' un bene, ed ha permesso di ottenere un miglioramento sostanziale in molti asp
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Julie
As someone who often has a terrible paralysis while making simple and fairly inconsequential decisions and whiles away hours on internet research for most other decisions, I am a believer in the concept of this book. The huge number of choices facing us these days can drive a person crazy and miserable. On the other hand, when I think about how much the nuances in choices I face will really affect my future happiness and put in the work to look at the up-sides of what I have chosen and be gratef ...more
Trena
I give this book five stars because I think everyone will take something useful away from it. The basic premise is that at some point an array of choices reaches the point of diminishing returns--the amount of effort needed to make a perfect choice among a large number of options means that you get a diminishing marginal utility from whatever choice you have made. There are several factors to this diminished utility: the amount of effort required to make the choice is disproportionate to the imp ...more
Leslie
In this book, Barry Schwartz summarizes research about the difficulties of decision-making. The highly effective story he tells explains - possibly? probably? - much of the stress, anxiety, regret, and feelings of being overwhelmed experienced by many people in modern society. Our obsessive need for choices is closely related to the values of autonomy, independence, self-determination. But the more choice we have, the more responsible we are (or at least feel) for the outcomes of our decisions. ...more
Deb
**When choice becomes tyrannical**

Choice is a good thing, right?

What says self-determination and autonomy more than our being able to walk into any grocery story and be offered the choice of (note: the following data were dutifully collected by the author during a trip to his local grocery store): 85 different crackers, 285 varieties of cookies (21 of which are chocolate-chip cookies), 13 different sport drinks, 65 box drinks, 75 types of teas and adult drinks, 95 different snack options, 61 va
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Chloe
The premise of this book did interest me. What I thought was going to be a book that analyzed how the abundances of choice or at least the appearance of choice affects our perception of freedom, satisfaction, and enjoyment, turned out to be a repetitive book that sounds like an older guy complaining why there are so many different types of beans in the supermarket.

"I just want a can of beans! Why are there so many types! Just give me beans!"

Honestly, at one point he does appear to bemoan the var
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Kathy Cowley
This book convincingly makes the case that having more choices can actually limit our freedom. The more choices we have about trivial things, the more time we have to spend on them, and we become, in essence, "foragers", sifting through a world of choice. More choices can also make important decisions harder, raising our expectations, encouraging us to seek for the "best" which must be out there somewhere, and increasing our sense of regret by comparison of the choices to others.

This psychology
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Lilyanne
This book has been on my “to read” list since I first heard about it during high school, and I sure wish I had read it then, it would have provided some relief during the more anxiety-ridden moments of my twenties. Because after high school, there is a divergence in life choices. Some of your peers go to college, some do not. Your peers might choose different majors, and then choose different jobs after college. Or choose grad school. They might choose marriage and children. They choose to live ...more
Grace
The paradox of our time: "People want more control over the details of their lives, but a majority of people also want to simplify their lives."
How can you simplify your life when every waking second of every day, we are bombarded with choices?

Some of these are mundane and even automatic: do I get up and get in the shower so I can go to work or do I hit the snooze button? Some are a little more complex: the story of Barry Schwartz going to the Gap for a new pair of jeans and realizing that the
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Lana
"As Americans, we assume that more choice means better options and greater satisfaction. But beware of excessive choice: Choice overload can...set you up for unrealistically high expectation and it can make you blame yourself for any and all failures. In the long run, this can lead to decision-making paralysis." (inside cover flap)

One thing I gained from the book was a better awareness of how much time I spend making decisions that don't matter much. "A chooser relfects on what's important to hi
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Jane
Always fascinated by the high level of consumerism exhibited by most Americans, I was interested to see what Schwartz had to say about how we are affected by the seemingly endless options for almost ANYTHING that are around us daily. Well, he came to the conclusion that I would suspect: it's partly the fact that we have so many choices and options (whether for TV channels or dishwashers, colors of camis or type of flip-flop, cars or cans of soup) that makes us feel more stressed out and pressed ...more
Jessica
I enjoyed this fast, interesting read. Barry Schwartz argues that more is not always better, at least when it comes to trivial choices that zap our energy and deliver no lasting benefit. People who go for "good enough" instead of "the best" end up happier in the end. (Having a kiddo taught me this - it turns out you can spin your wheels a LOOONNGG time trying to be the "perfect" mother and, all the while, perfect does not necessarily equal good.)

What I didn't know is that this common sense prop
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Chibimagic
The entire contents of this book could have fit into a single long blog post. Apparently when the author told us we should be satisfied with "good enough", he really took it to heart and wrote a book that was just borderline so. Parts I through III are a jumble of verbose repetition, as if he started with an outline of "elaborate here"s and then filled them in for the sake of having words. He explains things that don't need explaining, and doesn't explain things that need to be explained. He dis ...more
Maggie
excellent assessment of why more IS less. in these times when choice is more than we need and decisions get harder while tensions rise, why not kick back and read this well-written and intriguing (in examples used as well as perspective on his points made) book by barry schwartz. you will be glad you did and it's a book that will echo in both your mind and your heart as you cruise the streets of way-too-many-choices in our american lifestyle. it's a gift to yourself.
MCOH
The author says that often, having too many choices makes us less happy. We get fixated on making the absolute very best choice in any given situation. We can feel paralyzed with indecision when there are too many options. There often isn't a clear-cut winner, but we feel sure that there ought to be, if we could just figure it out. We can't just enjoy what we have; we're always worried that there might be something better out there that we're missing. Or we imagine options that don't actually ex ...more
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Goodreads Librari...: Description needs to be fixed 2 15 Feb 01, 2014 06:58PM  
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an American psychologist. Schwartz is the Dorwin Cartwright Professor of Social Theory and Social Action at Swarthmore College. He frequently publishes editorials in the New York Times applying his research in psychology to current events.
More about Barry Schwartz...
Practical Wisdom: The Right Way To Do the Right Thing The Costs of Living Psychology of Learning and Behavior The Battle for Human Nature: Science, Morality and Modern Life Anleitung Zur Unzufriedenheit

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“Focus on what makes you happy, and do what gives meaning to your life” 11 likes
“Learning to choose is hard. Learning to choose well is harder. And learning to choose well in a world of unlimited possibilities is harder still, perhaps too hard.” 6 likes
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