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The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less

3.82  ·  Rating Details  ·  18,477 Ratings  ·  934 Reviews
About the Book: The Paradox of Choice In the spirit of Alvin Tofflers Future Shock, a social critique of our obsession with choice, and how it contributes to anxiety, dissatisfaction and regret. Whether were 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 401K, everyday decisions h ...more
Paperback, 265 pages
Published January 18th 2005 by Harper Perennial (first published 2004)
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Simon It is an analysis of the effects of the increasing amount of choice we are faced with as a result our modern value of "freedom" as it has been…moreIt is an analysis of the effects of the increasing amount of choice we are faced with as a result our modern value of "freedom" as it has been interpreted by society simply mean more options. For better or for worse.

It starts by explaining the situation as the writer sees it. One example is the experiment of offering chocolate samples, one day offering a small selection and having a positive response in sales and another day where more selection of samples are offered but with a surprisingly poorer response in sales. This sets the temperament of the authors composition.

The book continues by addressing issues of choice and happiness, missed opportunities, comparison, disappointment, depression and other psychological areas. It is neatly concluded in a short chapter titled 'What to Do About Choice'.(less)
Steve Malerich I hesitate to attach superlatives to anything, so I'll start my answer with: (1) This is an easy read; (2) It's relevant to daily living; (3) It cites…moreI hesitate to attach superlatives to anything, so I'll start my answer with: (1) This is an easy read; (2) It's relevant to daily living; (3) It cites substantial research that either leads to or supports its conclusions; and (4) It provides recommendations that are consistent with the observations and conclusions.

If your definition of "brilliant" includes something that combines those four characteristics, then this book qualifies.(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Mar 15, 2009 Cameron rated it really liked it
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
Jan 29, 2008 Jeff rated it did not like it
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
Mar 23, 2008 Edward rated it really liked it
Really important book for me. Refers to some great research. Some highlights:

- “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
May 02, 2016 Darwin8u rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013
“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.”
― Barry Schwartz, The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less


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 su
Dec 14, 2008 Gordon rated it it was amazing

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
Dec 08, 2007 Donna rated it really liked it
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
Crystal Starr Light
Bullet Review:

Fascinating look at why making decisions can be so hard and some tips on how to lessen the regret from making a "bad choice".

There were a few comments that came across somewhat sexist, but as I can't remember them (I read this over a LOOOOOONG period of time), I won't push the point.
Sean Engelhardt
May 23, 2013 Sean Engelhardt rated it really liked it
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
Kressel Housman
I first heard of this book from a friend, who explained it in terms of dating. In the span of time between her first date with her husband and the day they finally got married, she had married and divorced someone else. Why? Because when he first met her, he couldn’t decide. There were so many other women available he was afraid of missing out on “the right one” and wanted to try out more options. That is the paradox of choice. The more options that are available, the harder it is to decide.

Nicholas Karpuk
Apr 10, 2009 Nicholas Karpuk rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 23, 2013 Chloe rated it did not like it
Shelves: nonfiction
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
Dec 10, 2015 Jeanette rated it it was ok
This book had some good points. Enough to make a decent length research article maybe, but not the length or breadth for a book of these subsequent verbose assumptions. Yes, things ARE too complex. And really they don't need to be so complex, but humans and their organizations, in particular- have made them so.

As I am not a maximizer in any sense, and least of all in the material- this was rather a waste of time for me to read, IMHO.

If you are competitive in nature to the extreme, have difficul
خیلی جالب بود. حتماً باید یه بار دیگه بخونمش، اون هم متن کاملش رو. قبول برخی حرف های نویسنده سخته، و باید بهشون فکر کرد. شاید باید دوباره بهش گوش بدم.

به یک بار خوندن میارزه؛ مخصوصاً اگر در حال حاضر در برابر یه انتخاب مهم قرار دارین یا اینکه عوامل زیادی که باید در موردشون تصمیم بگیرین، گیجتون کردن.
Jun 07, 2007 Hilary rated it it was amazing
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
Zahra Dashti
قابل تامل و جالب بود. دوست دارم کتابش رو بخونم (آدیو بوک خلاصه شو گوش دادم)
Mario Tomic
Dec 16, 2015 Mario Tomic rated it it was amazing
The big idea of this book is that after a certain threshold having too many choices will decrease our happiness regardless if we make the best choice in the end. I like the part of the book where the author goes in detail to explain choice paralysis which is something I dealt with a lot myself. Paralysis happens when when there's too many options. Naturally we tend to make worse decisions because we attempt to simplify the choices to a point where the simplification reduces our ability to make a ...more
Kristi Thielen
Aug 19, 2011 Kristi Thielen rated it it was ok
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
Erika RS
May 13, 2013 Erika RS rated it liked it
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,
Mar 10, 2016 Juliet rated it really liked it
My initial rating of this book was 3 stars, as I felt the book was repetitive and the "tips" in Part 3 seem like an afterthought and lack thorough exploration. However, upon more reflection, I realized how much the ideas in this book were sticking and that it changed my perspective on shopping, making choices, advertising, and my general outlook on day to day tasks. This is where the book gained another star from me.

While the book is repetitive and the author really does belabor his points at t
Jan 12, 2016 Katy marked it as to-read
One more example of an area where there are too many choices and I just might scream.
Feb 16, 2014 Mitch rated it it was amazing
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
Katherine 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
Travis Murdock
Aug 12, 2007 Travis Murdock rated it really liked it
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
Dec 08, 2010 Sara rated it it was amazing
When people have no choices, life is hard. Choice brings dignity, autonomy, control, and a measure of happiness. However, in our present culture, our number of choices has multiplied to the point where the freedom to choose is actually oppressive. We spend too much time and energy on making decisions and are frequently disappointed by the results. We're constantly comparing ourselves and our stuff to others, and conditioned by the media to never be satisfied with who we are or what have.

The bes
Megan Stembridge
Aug 05, 2010 Megan Stembridge rated it really liked it
Some of the references are outdated (VCRs?), but overall I very much enjoyed this book. I feel like it gave me a wiser way of viewing my options and making choices a little less stressfully. I absolutely recommend this to anyone who ever feels stymied into inaction by the sheer volume of life's options.
Nov 15, 2015 Claire rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
This book delves into the psychological and emotional effects of having more and more options to choose from. I was familiar with the basic premise but this dug deeper into it, even relating it to the significant increase in depression over the years.

I might've given it a four but I'd already read about most of the studies he referenced in other books. While those books were more about how the brain works or decision making, this one focuses on the effects of the process we use to choose.

He argu
Jyotika Varmani
Jun 19, 2015 Jyotika Varmani rated it really liked it
This book seems like a hash mash of psychological studies we go through as undergraduates on the surface. The author delivers his viewpoint successfully but the main issue is the organization of the book. It seems like one study presented after another, which seems very much to be the trend in writing these days. I do not find it appealing, though. Also, the advice and resolution we much desire after going through the length of the book comes in a very short chapter at the end.

Nonetheless, I app
Aries Eroles
Oct 23, 2015 Aries Eroles rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the books I discovered after watching a TED talk by the author. That should not be surprising, I mean, to find authors among the TED "cult" or speakers at TED community write books. TED is one of those amazing organizations where you can find or experience "ideas worth spreading".

Barry Schwartz is a Dorwin Cartwright Professor of Social Theory and Social Action at Swarthmore College. In his 20-min talk at the TED stage in 2005 he begins by revealing the "official dogma" of western
Mar 07, 2012 Naomi rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Jan 11, 2011 Mangoo rated it it was amazing
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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Goodreads Librari...: Description needs to be fixed 2 16 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...

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“Focus on what makes you happy, and do what gives meaning to your life” 23 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.” 21 likes
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