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

The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz
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's review
Sep 04, 12

bookshelves: clothing-fashion-dress, cooking-food-wine, history, non-fiction, owned-books
Read from August 26 to September 02, 2012 — I own a copy, read count: 1

Mr. Schwartz found that we were inundated with too many choices the day he went to buy a pair of jeans. Suddenly confronted with bewildering terms like low cut, boot cut, tapered fit, relaxed fit, stonewashed, acid washed, etc., what should have been a quick, simple process turned into a task that took hours.

In this book, he confronts our changed society, one in which we have overwhelming choices for practically every purchase in our lives from our coffee to what school we should attend to our phone service, and how these increased choices aren’t necessarily good for us or our mental health. He points out the difference between automatic choices (getting out of bed in the morning, brushing our teeth, combing our hair, and so forth) to the agony of choices that will determine our future happiness.

While his theories are reasoned and sound, Mr. Schwartz falls into the trap of making his point again and again, as if the first example simply wasn’t enough to get his message across to the reader. If this book had been judicially trimmed here and there, I’m sure it would have delivered a more powerful statement. But that was his choice, I suppose.

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Reading Progress

08/27/2012 page 14
5.0% "My wife and I receive about 20 catalogs a week in the mail. We get catalogs for clothes, luggage, housewares, furniture, kitchen appliances, gourmet food, athletic gear, computer equipment, linens, bathroom furnishings, and unusual gifts, plus a few that are hard to classify. These catalogs spread like a virus—once you’re on the mailing list for one, dozens of others seem to follow."
08/28/2012 page 44
17.0% "If it were up to us to choose whether or not to have choice, we would opt for choice almost every time. But it is the cumulative effect of these added choices that I think is causing substantial distress."
08/29/2012 page 126
48.0% "What then, do people do if virtually all decisions involve trade-offs and people resist making them? One option is to postpone or avoid the decision. Imagine being in the market for a new music system and seeing a sign in a store window announcing a one-day clearance sale on CD players. You can get a popular Sony CD play for only $99. Do you buy it, or do you continue to research other brands and models?"
08/30/2012 page 150
57.0% "Mr. Crane and Mr. Tees were scheduled to leave the airport on different flights, at the same time. They traveled from town in the same limousine, were caught in a traffic jam, and arrived at the airport thirty minutes after the scheduled departure time of their flights. Mr. Crane is told that his flight left on time. Mr. Tees is told that his flight was delayed and left just five minutes ago. Who is more upset?"

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