Gordon's Reviews > The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less

The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz
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's review
Dec 14, 08

Read in January, 2007


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 making a mistake, of not making the absolute best choice. And often the more time you spend making that perfect choice, the more unhappy you are second-guessing yourself after the fact. Did I make a mistake?

How to get out of this dilemma? Limit your choices to a handful that satisfy your criteria. Then stop adding more alternatives. Make your selection as quickly as you can given the available information and the importance of the decision. Buying a house warrants careful consideration and lots of time. Buying a coffee-maker does not.

This may sound kind of self-evident, but can be extraordinarily difficult to put into practice, whether it has to do with choosing mates or picking a university to attend. The book is well-supported by lots of experimental evidence. Well worth reading. Highly recommended.
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