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The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less

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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 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 401K, everyday decisions have become increasingly complex due to the overwhelming abundance of choice with which we are presented.

In The Paradox of Choice, Barry Schwartz explains why too much of a good thing has proven detrimental to our psychological and emotional well-being. In accessible, engaging, and anecdotal prose, Schwartz explains how a culture that thrives on the availability of constantly evolving options can also foster profound dissatisfaction and self-blame in individuals, which can lead to a paralysis in decision making and, in some cases, depression.

With the latest studies on how we make choices in our personal and professional lives, Schwartz offers practical advice on how to focus on the right choices, and how to derive greater satisfaction from choices that we do make.

265 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2004

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About the author

Barry Schwartz

31 books491 followers
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.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,822 reviews
Profile Image for Jeff.
499 reviews
January 29, 2008
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 page article, we don't need 236 pages of examples to get the idea. Yeah, there is too much choice, and we need to spend quality time making the choices that matter like where to work and who to be in a commited relationship with, and less time picking out what cereal to buy. So you get the gist. Make the right choice and leave this book on the shelf.
Profile Image for Edward.
116 reviews4 followers
March 23, 2008
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 of jams, only 3% bought from the large sample (those buying from small sample were more satisfied)
2. New Choices
- healthcare, beauty, religion
- 65% say they would choose own treatment if got cancer, but only 12% actually do this
- work is unconstrained by what your parents’ did or geography: a 34 YO has already worked for 9 companies
- in fact staying with a job doesn’t show loyalty, but a lack of ambition.

II. How We Choose
3. Deciding and Chooosing
- experienced, expected, and remembered utility rarely line up faithfully
- Kahneman et. al.’s remembering utility by “peak-end” rule (people preferred noise that ended less unpleasantly even though maximal unpleasantness lasted longer)
- people rated "colonoscopy plus" as less unpleasant than rival (even effected 5-year follow ups)
- James Twichell: “Ads are what we know about the world around us”.
- availability heuristic (we think there are more words that start with “t” than have it has 3rd letter)
- saliency: people are swayed by vivid video on how police are even when told it is atypical case
- people think accidents kill as many as diseases (though latter kill 16x more), homicide = strokes (latter kills 11x more); dramatic deaths overestimated (and this correlated with newspaper coverage).
- a chooser thinks about consequences, values, and can create choices or refuse to make any; a picker just hopes for the best

4. When Only the Best Will Do
- maximizers seek and accept only the best, which is a difficult decision strategy when there are many options; satisfacers are ok with “good enough”
- Herbert Simon (who coined the term) thought that satisfizing was the maximizing strategy
- maximizers savor the positive less and do not cope as well as satis., take longer to recover from bad stuff, are not as happy/satisfied with life, more pessimistic, more regret, and more depressed (extreme max. score=borderline clinical depression).
- “buyer’s remorse” diminishes satisfaction with choice made and can be anticipatory
- many choices+maximizing=unhappiness

III. Why We Suffer
5. Choice and Happiness
- “Choice is what enables us to tell the world who we are and what we care about”; has expressive value
- close social relations are most important for happiness (though decreases autonomy)
- the less barriers to autonomy we have, the more disturbing the remaining ones are
- income affects happiness only until people stop being poor (tested by looking at different countries at the same time and the same country at different times).
- happy people can attract others and being with others can make people happy
- it takes time for form close connections, to maintain them
- rules, standards, and routines can be good
- we are drawn to people who meet our standards, and than we stick with them out of routine (we don’t think about it everyday)

6. Missed Opportunities
- economics says we should only consider opportunity costs of next-best alternative (so if soccer costs $3 and bball is next best alternative, the total cost of soccer is $3 plus missing out on bball)
- participants chose the safer more expensive car, rather than the cheaper and more dangerous one regardless of price
- 75% of MD’s tried a med instead of referring to specialist, however 50% referred instead of choice of 2 meds (a way of avoiding a decision).
- negatives stand out more than positives
- neg. emotions makes for bad decisions and vice versa (candy made residents faster and more accurate diagnoses).
- students offered 6 topics more likely wrote essays & they were better than those offered 30 topics
- students exposed to 30 chocolates liked them less & would rather take $ instead more often than those exposed to 6
- people marry 5 years later than a generation ago, and people stay half as long at jobs
- evolution may have only prepared us to separate good from bad, not better from best (a ala Nozick)
- people want to be able to reverse decisions, however few do, and those that have the option are less satisfied (the former put more psychological work into making things OK)

7. The Problem of Regret
- postdecison (buyer’s reget makes things less enjoyable) and predecison (which can paralyze)
-bronze medalists are happier than silver medalists (near misses hurt more)
- people rarely say “things could be worse” (gratitude), they usually see how things could be better (can inspire) sunk costs: coaches also give more time to high paid players irrespective of performance

8. The Problem of Adaptation
- we get used to things and take them for granted and people don’t anticipate this
- 1973: 13% of Americans thought AC in cars was a necessity, today: 41%.
- lottery winners not more happier and accident victims were still pretty happy
-adaptation can be good in a world of misery
- hedonic and satisfaction treadmills

9. Why Everything Suffers from Comparison
- comparisons to: what you hoped/expected, other experiences, other people’s experiences
- “the curse of discernment”
- poor teens talked about benefits of internet, rich teens talked about drawbacks
- upward comparisons to others is bad a lot (though can inspire), downward comparisons can boost self-esteem, increase positive mood, and reduce anxiety
- when cancer patients encountered other cancer patients in good shape they felt better
- only compare to people in our “pond” where we have good chances of being successful (this was necessarily the case before)
- most respondants choose better relative position over absolute position with IQs
- happy people were minimally affected by other’s skill at the anagram task, they were not affected by feedback given to their partner (unlike unhappy people); the former can distract & move on, the latter ruminate (all this pertains to maximizers vs. satisfisers as well which is paradoxical as “the best” should be independent of how others are doing)

10. Choice, Disappointment, and Depression
- Seligman: you’ll get depressed at failure/loss of control that is attributed in a personal, persistent, and pervasive way (as opposed to global, transient, and specific attribution); “optimists” do the latter with failure and the former with success, “pessimists” do the opposite
- suicide is second leading cause of death (after accidents) among US High School and College students; rate among College students has tripled in last 35 years
- it matters if failure is our fault (Americans buy 50 million diet books per year and spend more than $50 billion on dieting); ultathin cultures have women that are double as depressed as men
- unattainable expectations + tendancy to take personal responsibility = badness

IV. What We Can Do
11. What to Do About Choice
(1) Choose when to choose
- costs are subtle and cumulative; focus on subjective, not objective
- You could make a rule to visit no more than 2 stores when shopping for clothes or to consider no more than 2 destinations when considering a vacation
(2) Be a chooser, not a picker
- choosers reflect on what makes a decision important, whether even none of the options should be chosen, or a new option created, and the expressive value of a choice; pickers are passive selectors from what is available
- shorten or eliminate fuss about unimportant decisions, use freed up time to reflect on what you want, think about what options would need to be created (if so)
(3) Satisfice more and maximize less
(4) Think about the opportunity costs of opportunity costs
- a “good investment” for a satisficer may be one that returns more than inflation. Period.
(5) Make your decisions nonreversible
- I’m simply not going there, I’ve made my decision so this option has nothing to do with me. I’m out of the market, so end of story
- you can pour your energy instead into improving the relationship, rather than second-guessing it
(6) Practice an “attitude of gratitude”
- the same experience can have delightful and disappointing aspects and its up to us what we focus on
- everyday list 5 things that happened which you are grateful for (you may be surprised)
(7) Regret Less
- practice gratitude for what is good in a decision rather than focusing on bad
(8) Anticipate adaptation
- develop realistic expectations about how experiences change with time and how we satisfied with only higher levels of experience over time (the double wammy)
(9) Control expectations
- remove excessively high ones, allow for serendipity
(10) Curtail social comparison
- learning that good enough is good enough will automatically reduce social comparison
- focus on what makes you happy and what gives meaning to your life
(11) Learn to love constraints
- they can be liberating this choice overload context
- following rules can free up time/energy for situations where rules don’t work

Profile Image for Chloe.
61 reviews48 followers
January 23, 2013
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 variety of beans that are available in the common supermarket. Not really the kind of abundance of choice I was expecting to be inhibiting our every day lives. He goes on to provide more anecdotes about how hard he is finding it to adjust to so much choice now available in the modern market place. He describes the agony of picking out a pair of jeans, since there are so many different cuts available since clothing designers have figured out that there is more than one body type.

And it is his approach to buying jeans that honestly made me loose respect in his approach to the whole subject of choice. What he does is he sees that there are so many different cuts, he can't decide, therefor he buys all the different types, tries them on at home to figure out which one work for him. And there I was thinking, "Isn't that what dressing rooms are for?" He just made the whole process more convoluted and difficult than necessary, which made me think what other concepts did he just add an unnecessary level of complexity to.

I really find it hard to think that it is better for a clothing store to ignore different body types and to just make clothes that fits one ideal body type to make one shopping experience easier. The truth is, everyone has to go through finding out the cut of jeans that work best for you, and then after that point, you just remember and pick the cut you know fits you after that experience. Someone really doesn't reevaluate and try on all the different cuts every single time they go to buy jeans. Just like people know their size, people know their cut. Unless there is a size 6 who tries sizes 0 - 14 only to realize that a size 6 still is the size that fits her the best.

He even tried to argue that having more than one place to vacation to was a bad thing. That deciding made the experiences significantly less enjoyable. I don't know about him but once I have decided and I am on vacation, I don't really think about where I could have been but where I am currently. A vacation is a vacation, it is kind of hard to ruin them.

This author could have made very valid points, but many times the anecdotes he provided made him sound like a confused, annoyed aging man who wants things to be like the good old days, his examples and scenarios weren't good at all (picking out beans, buying jeans, or where to go on a vacation, etc), and also he would provide very little evidence to back up the claims that choice was making us more miserable.
Profile Image for Sahar.
301 reviews246 followers
July 21, 2021
“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…”

The modern Western capitalist society provides its citizens with endless choices and possibilities. We are totally spoiled for choice in every aspect of our lives, and these choices aren’t just limited to material goods; there is a parallel proliferation of new ideologies, movements, and theories. Though it may be perceived as advantageous to have so much agency and free will over every aspect of our lives, psychologist Barry Shwartz argues in his that abundance and proliferation of choice is in fact detrimental to our physical health and psychological wellbeing. In this book, Schwartz recounts the findings of his own independent studies as well as external research into behaviour and decision-making. He is a critic of the philosophical frameworks that underpin modern Western societies, with much of his research and published works reflective of his contrarian approach.

Schwartz argues that excessive autonomy breeds increasing levels of stress for the lay person who will struggle with even the most trivial of daily decisions. Schwartz states, “Though modern Americans have more choice than any group of people ever has before, and thus, presumably, more freedom and autonomy, we don’t seem to be benefiting from it psychologically.”

I value the challenge of the contrarian via the medium of literature, particularly when it spurs reflection regarding the status quo and widely accepted societal norms. It is the fact that Schwartz boldly contests the historic belief that more choice is synonymous with more control and better quality of life that inspired me to hear what he had to say. The Paradox of Choice is a work that not only gives you a chance to reflect on how immensely blessed we are to have so much agency, but to truly contemplate whether this truly enriches our lives, or whether it in fact makes us more confused and dissatisfied than ever. As Schwartz goes on to demonstrate, the latter seems to be the more prevalent state of affairs.

Schwartz’s work is divided into four parts; he begins by stating how we choose, explaining how this causes us to suffer, and ends with helpful tips on what we can do going forward to eliminate the stresses that excessive choice begets. Aside from the eye-opening research that demonstrated how people actually make poorer decisions despite having more options, what particularly stood out to me was the concept of people falling into one of two: ‘maximisers’ or ‘satisficers’ (that latter of which I was sceptical of even being word until I searched it up).

A maximiser, Schwartz claims, is an individual that seeks and accepts only the best. That is, they will go to vast lengths and exert much energy to ensure the product or service they are signing up for is the crème de la crème. A satisficer, on the other hand, will settle for something that is good enough without scouring the Earth to find the best of its kind. Schwartz argues that Western society and its obsession with inordinate materialism, excessive consumption and social status has caused those who may naturally be satisficers to fall into the maximiser category. This certainly makes sense; it is evident in how we compete with one another to live increasingly extravagant, lavish lifestyles. This is reminiscent of what Allah says in the Qur’an regarding materialism: “Competition in [worldly] increase diverts you, Until you meet the graveyards.” [Qur’an, 102:1-2]. We all too often forget that this world is not our final abode and we put this reality on the backburner, as we continue to hoard our wealth and possessions as if they will vouch for us in the afterlife.
This notion is further accentuated as Schwartz states, “I believe that the goal of maximising is a source of great dissatisfaction, that it can make people miserable–especially in a world that insists on providing an overwhelming number of choices, both trivial and not so trivial.” The more energy we exert and the more time we waste sifting through all the choices not only decreases our likelihood of actually enjoying or valuing the product or service after purchase, but also decreases our gratefulness to the One who provided us with it in the first instance.

It has long been said that affluence does not equal happiness. The Western world produces the most affluent and economically thriving societies, especially in terms of income per capita. It is not a stretch, therefore, to believe that this would cause the quality of our lives to likewise increase, however, this is not the case. Increased rates of suicide, depression, anxiety and loneliness can be used to gauge just how much damage excessive affluence and modern lifestyles can have on a society. Liberal Western societies emphasise individualism, and it is this very concept that is causing so many to experience such debilitating mental states. It is no surprise, then, that, “what seems to be the most important factor in providing happiness is close social relations”. The Islamic worldview champions and showcases this factor with its emphasis on maintaining good social and familial relations to form a cohesive, content, and strong society. “So would you perhaps, if you turned away, cause corruption on earth and sever your [ties of] relationship?” [Qur’an, 47:22].

As an academic whose work concentrates on the interplay between psychology and economics, Schwartz uses several economic theories to back up his research and further illustrate the extent to which excessive choice makes us suffer. One such example is the concept of ‘opportunity cost’, which will be familiar to those who have studied basic economic theory. In simple terms, opportunity cost is that which is given up when choosing between options: “Choosing almost always involves giving up something of value. So thinking about opportunity cost is probably an essential part of wise decision making. The trick is to limit the set of possibilities so that the opportunity costs don’t add up to make all the alternatives unattractive.” One solution to expedite the long-winded decision-making process, therefore, is to discipline yourself and limit your options, and this is the key advice Schwartz imparts in his book.

In all, The Paradox of Choice is a though-provoking read and encourages the reader to be open and honest about the ways in which they make choices and decisions. My only critique is that I felt the book was a bit too long and got repetitive. It could have easily been half the length and still as effective if the writing was more concise. The volume of research and cases also contributed to the length of the book, and though I appreciated the evidence, I found it a bit overwhelming. I valued the emphasis on the need to be grateful and appreciative of all that we have been given, for the very fact that we have the ‘problem’ of too much choice in the first instance is a key indicator of our privilege and prosperity.“Look at those people who have less than you and never look at those who have more grants than you, this will ensure that you will not depreciate Allah’s favours.” (Muslim).
Profile Image for Darwin8u.
1,559 reviews8,648 followers
May 3, 2016
“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 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 ideas at the same time. We are surprised, we are also a little validated: just little bit of supply with a very light touch demand.

This book belongs snug on the bookshelf next to: anything by Malcolm Gladwell, Freakonomics, Predictably Irrational, Nudge, Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me), etc. All interesting, all worth the time (as long as the time is < 5 hrs), but none of them are brilliant. They are all Gladwell-like in their reductionism (this is why they all sell so well to the business community and are pimped heavily by Forbes to TED). I am both attracted and repelled by the form. They seem to span the fissure between academic and pop, between economics and self-help. I read them and I end up feeling like I know a bit more about myself, and NOW I'm just disappointed in that bastard for a couple more rational reasons.

A side note. I believe behavioral economics was invented to get economists laid. It got them hanging out with more psychology and sociology majors and well, there you go*. It reminds me of a joke my econ professor used to tell us. "What does an economist use for birth control? His personality."

* see Malcolm 'the horndog' Gladwell above.
Profile Image for Kressel Housman.
966 reviews216 followers
November 2, 2015
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.

All of that seemed perfectly logical to me, but until I read this book, I didn’t think it applied to me. I’m not indecisive. But what I discovered after reflecting on what I learned from this book is that I’m a decision avoider. Unlike my friend’s husband, I’m not apt to try out many options. I don’t shop around. As a matter of fact, I barely shop at all. And while this does simplify things, it’s not a balanced approach either.

The book makes the distinction between maximizers, people who shop around to find the best possible option, and satisficers, people who settle for “good enough.” It’s better to be a satisficer than a maximizer, and I did test closer to satisficer on the quiz (what good self-help book doesn’t have at least one?), but because regret over past decisions is a maximizer trait that looms large in my life, I’ve been forced to conclude that I’m a satisficer in food, clothing, and entertainment, but a maximizer over the big deal decisions of my life: education, career, relationships, and child-rearing. As I’ve said in other reviews, one of the main reasons I want to go to graduate school is that I want a second chance at the college dream I bungled so badly the first time. I don’t enroll because I can’t afford to, but my job seems all the more boring as a result because I keep thinking that graduate school would be a better use of my time and talents. Goodreads is my continuing education, of course, but it doesn’t entirely satisfice while I’m at my job. I’d rather be reading or writing for Goodreads.

The book does give advice on how to become more of a satisficer, and though it’s solid advice, it wasn’t anything I didn’t already know. Basically, the advice is two-fold. First, practice an “attitude of gratitude” so that you’ll see the good in what you have. And second, since the idea that you’re missing out on some better option is a product of the imagination, imagine options that could be worse than the one you’re in. After all, those happen, too.

But you know what? I just can’t give up hope that there’s something better out there. Imagining worse is what keeps me from seeking change, but that’s fear. I’m as paralyzed as my friend’s husband was. This, the book says, is regret aversion. I have it big time.

So all in all, this was not a “feel good” self-help book. It’s made me see my faults more clearly, and at the moment anyway, it hasn’t given me any new skills. Still, the points rang true, so if awareness is the first step, hopefully, I’m on the right path. May Hashem send solutions to us all.
Profile Image for Gordon.
212 reviews44 followers
December 15, 2008

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.
Profile Image for Miloš Kostić.
41 reviews47 followers
July 17, 2016
Otkad sam saznao da su ljudi, u proseku, danas mnogo nesrećniji nego ranije, kao i da će biti sve gore, često se pitam zašto je to tako. Uvek sam imao neke svoje nejasne odgovore na to pitanje ali me oni nisu dovoljno zadovoljavali. Jako mi je čudno da u vremenima kada je sve lakše i malo toga je zabranjeno, broj obolelih od depresije, na primer, rapidno raste. Posle ove knjige su mi stvari malo jasnije. Mogu da zamislim kako ova knjiga može nekome promeniti život.

Većina nas je srećna što može da u mnoštvu opcija oko svega što postoji, odabere ono što najviše želi. Ili makar, mislimo da smo srećni. Bari Švarc u Paradoksu izbora ubedljivo pokazuje da prekomeran izbor prečesto donosi više problema nego koristi. I što je veći izbor, problemi se samo gomilaju. Kontraintuitivno, zar ne? Ali u ovom našem komplikovanom univerzumu mnoge stvari su baš takve.

Naravno, dobro je što imamo veliku slobodu da biramo ali kada si primoran da sve vreme ne radiš ništa drugo osim što biraš i prebiraš onda to i nije sloboda, zar ne? Baš to je ono što se dešava u modernom svetu: odričemo se svoje slobode i svog vremena da bi prebirali među stvarima koje baš i nisu neophodne. Mnogi se pitaju gde im odlazi slobodno vreme, a kada razmisle, shvate da su pola dana birali gde će da ručaju, šta će da obuku, s kim će sve da idu, šta će da jedu, koliko će tamo da ostanu, a pre toga su birali gde će nešto da kupe, šta će da kupe, koliko će para da potroše, obilazili radnje, i uvek su nekako izvirale nove radnje, novi modeli, pa onda još samo jedna radnja, još samo jedna stvar... Ranije su nam mnoge stvari bile bogom dane: imali smo porodicu, komšiluk, rodni grad, religiju... Sada nismo zadovoljni toliko suženim izborom i osećamo da moramo da pronađemo savršene prijatelje, savršenog partnera, savršenu školu, savršen posao, savršen kraj, savršenu zemlju... I non-stop razmišljamo da li smo napravili savršen izbor, pa onda ide premišljanje, prebrajanje, kajanje, dvoumljenje da li da se razvedemo, da li je ona pre bila bolja za mene... A to sve nas ne čini srećnijim. Naprotiv, sva istraživanja pokazuju suprotno. Recimo, ako imamo previše izbora često odustajemo od svih. Pravljenje kompromisa stvara konflikte. A što više izbora imamo to je više mogućnosti koje ćemo sigurno propustiti. Dugoročno ljudi se najviše kaju ne zbog onoga što jesu učinili već zbog onoga što su propustili. A mnogo toga propuštamo.

Žalosno je to što zbog psiholoških mehanizama koji stoje iza odabiranja unapred pravimo velike greške. Dokazano je da užasno predviđamo koliko će nam nešto prijati. Očekujemo da će nešto biti užasno ili sjajno a u stvarnosti sve to bude mnogo manjeg stepena ili čak bude suprotno. I još, prilično loše ocenjujemo kako su stvari odvijale. Kada ocenjujemo, odnosno to pokušamo da izrazimo, prvo opisujemo stvari koje nam prvo padnu na pamet ili ih je lakše artikulisati. I na osnovu svega toga donosimo buduće odluke. Kada ostvarimo veliki novčani dobitak ili, na primer, postanemo nepokretni, mi očekujemo da će naš osećaj sreće i zadovoljstva zauvek biti drugačiji. U stvarnosti, posle određenog vremena, mi se vratimo na naš uobičajni nivo. Adaptacija učini svoje. Znate ono čovek se na sve navikne. U knjizi se opisuje nešto što zovu „hedonistička mašina“. Uvek tražimo sve više i više nivoe uživanja a kada se naviknemo na nešto i to nam više ne bude dovoljno, težimo još višem. Kao da smo u mašini koja nam zauvek pomera cilj i nikad ga ne možemo dostići. I nikad nismo zadovoljni.

Ekstremne birače autor naziva „maksimizatorima“. Kod njih je kvalitet života jako snižen iako paradoksalno uvek teže najboljem. Bolje je sniziti kriterijume i zadovoljavati se dovoljno dobrim u većini stvari a samo u nekim težiti savršenstvu, a i to samo možda. Ionako je svejedno. Iako sreća verovatno nije najvažnija, ako, u suštini, postižeš iste stvrari sa dovoljno dobrim kao sa savršenim, bolje je biti srećan sa dovoljno dobrim nego večno isfrustiran sa najboljim koje u stvari ni ne možeš uvek da dostigneš. Najprijatnija uživanja treba učiniti retkim kako nam ne bi dosadila.
Profile Image for Sean Engelhardt.
14 reviews18 followers
May 23, 2013
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 know read this book; not all of it is going to be new or blow your mind, but overall it's just full of information that everyone should know and be able to refer to as just facts.
Profile Image for Mojtaba Shirani.
70 reviews9 followers
July 31, 2022
انسان تو این عصر تنوع انتخابش زیاد شده اما رضایتش از برخی انتخاب ها کمتر شده این کتاب کمک میکنه که چجوری انتخاب کنیم که رضایت داشته باشیم از کمال گرایی یا ماکسیمایزر بودن ما رو دور میکنه و توضیح میده چرا گزینه های بیشتر به معنی رضایت کمتره! جمله ای که در این کتاب بود و خیلی دوست داشتم این بود
ما نویسنده زندگی خودمون شدیم اما نمیدونیم چه داستانی باید برای خودمون بنویسیم
توصیه میکنم فایل های صوتی این کتاب رو از سایت متمم و با صدای محمدرضا شعبانعلی گوش بدید خیلی بهتر متوجه بحث میشید
Profile Image for Donna.
335 reviews12 followers
December 8, 2007
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 restaurant or an article of clothing, satisficing is usually the best approach.

Schwartz divides the world into "maximizers" and "satisficers," a notion that I found very interesting. One of his themes is that "maximizers" can drive themselves crazy by trying to make the "best" possible decision in every situation; it follows that "satisficers" tend to be healthier.

As a congenital satisficer and friend to a couple of "maximizers," I found the argument compelling. I think the book has some good insights into the stresses of modern living, and I highly recommend it for people who like to think about how they think.
Profile Image for Jeanette.
3,165 reviews541 followers
December 10, 2015
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 difficulty making up your mind, obsessively shop or acquire- or find yourself at 35 or 40 years of age idealistic to the point of being either a perfectionist or a "true believer" for some bigger agenda or barely into "living" your own life or career- then this may be a good book for you to read.

Most of the psychology here was not, but rather pseudo in definition and example, IMHO. A study of satisfaction is not the same as equating the opposite emotion as being depression, for instance.

When humans are not feeling successful in their own autonomous actions, then they are much more often tending to perceive their own self-identity or worth as being poor or being diminished. And to shut out or reject by mood others that differ with their own opinion about themselves.

Profile Image for MohammadReza Jokar.
43 reviews8 followers
June 27, 2020
اول اینکه اگر تد ��اک نویسنده رو ندیدید برید اول اونو ببینید! دوم اینکه احتمالش زیاده که بعد از دیدن تد تاک مثل من فکر کنید که دیگه نیازی به خوندن این کتاب ندارید و تد تاک، موضوعات کتاب رو کامل پوشش داده ... ولی این اشتباه رو نکنید! کتاب خیلی بیشتر از این حرفا مطالب مفید داره

این کتاب رو به شدت پیشنهاد میکنم چرا؟ چون بهمون کمک میکنه بفهمیم چه بلایی داره سرمون میاد با انتخاب هایی که جلومون میزارن و آزادی عملی که در انتخاب هامون داریم و کمک میکنه درک کنیم که چرا این اتفاقات داره میفته و در آخر هم چند تا راهکار برای بهتر شدن تصمیم گیری بهمون میده.
زبان اصلی کتاب رو خوندم که چیز پیچیده ای نبود و راحت و روون میشد خوندش.

Profile Image for Crystal Starr Light.
1,335 reviews813 followers
February 12, 2016
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.
Profile Image for Erika RS.
701 reviews182 followers
May 13, 2013
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, most of which are not important and many of which were not faced in the past. Schwartz's claim is that while choice is important, having to use brain power on unimportant choices slowly chips away at happiness. The important choices differ for each individual, so society should not necessarily work to decrease the choices available. However, individuals need to learn how to focus on choices that are important for them and ignore the rest.

Schwartz then discusses decision making. Decision making includes figuring out goals, evaluating the importance of each goal, arraying the options, evaluating each option relative to the goals, pick the winning option, and later using the consequences of the choice to modify future decision making processes. In practice, this process if followed partially and with limited consciousness.

Schwartz proposes that there are two types of choosers: maximizers and satisficers. Maximizers want to make the best decisions. Satisficers have a set of goals and are satisfied with any choice that fulfills those goals. Schwartz claims that maximizers might get objectively better results than satisficers, but satisficers get better subjective results (that is, they are happier). Everyone is a maximizer in some areas and a satisficer in others, but most people have a general tendency one way or the other.

The core of the book explores how choice decreases happiness. There are two key points. First, comparing a choice made with a choice that could have been made generally decreases happiness; it is likely that there is some way in which the another choice was superior to the chosen option, even if it was the best choice overall. Second, people adapt; over time, the happiness derived from a choice decreases, contrary to expectations that the happiness would remain constant. These two factors make people more likely to regret the choices they and more likely to feel they do not have control over their happiness. Furthermore, these factors will be more potent for maximizers because they cannot fall back on the idea that their goals were met.

After making a convincing case that excessive choice can decrease happiness, Schwartz discusses a set of tips for preventing too much choice from decreasing your happiness:

- Choose when to choose. Not all decisions on important. Decide which ones are important to you, and do not worry about the rest.

- Be a chooser, not a picker. Make your decisions based on your goals, not just by picking something out of all the choices available. This means that if nothing fits your goals, you may choose not to take any of the options.

- Satisfice more and maximize less.

- Think about the opportunity costs of opportunity costs. That is, limit how much you think about the opportunities you are missing out on.

- Make your decisions non-reversible. This one seems counter intuitive, but the idea is that if you cannot unmake a choice, you are more likely to try to be satisfied with it and making it work.

- Practice an "attitude of gratitude". If you focus on why the choices you have already made were the right choice to make, you will have an easier time not comparing it negatively to the choices you could have made.

- Regret less. Be a satisficer, not a maximizer. Reduce the number of options you have; you cannot miss what you do not know about.

- Anticipate adaption. Know that the pleasure a choice brings you in the future will probably not be as much as the initial pleasure it gives you so that you will not be disappointed when that happens.

- Control expectations. Set your expectations based on your goals and your needs. Be especially wary of letting others (especially the media or advertising) set your expectations.

- Curtail social comparison. Compare yourself to others less. Try to let your satisfaction be determined by how you feel about a decision, not how the actions or choices of others make you think you should feel.

- Learn how to love constraints. Constraints can decrease the amount of time you spend on the unimportant choices and give you the time to focus on the important ones.

Schwartz justifies his claims reasonably well with citations of psychological studies, and he is generally good at pointing out which claims are his own hypotheses and inferences and which are not. Overall, his arguments are convincing, and his claims generally consistent with my own experience, so I am willing to believe with his overall premise that too much choice can decrease happiness.

My main criticism of The Paradox of Choice is that it often seemed like Schwartz was bulking up his points with repetition to make the book longer. The primary content of the book could have fit into a long essay. Since there is not really a market for long essays these days, I do not blame Schwartz for bulking things up to make it book length.

After reading this book, I am going to consciously try to be aware of when I am making choices, when those choices are decreasing my happiness, and what choices are important to me. That awareness alone is reason enough to have read the book for me.
Profile Image for Yousif Al Zeera.
231 reviews81 followers
February 20, 2019
More is less. Definitely.
The book makes a strong case (backed by research) on the side-effects of living with a plethora of choices. More choices and options always looked like something to aspire to but the repercussions of the continued proliferation of choices in all fields at these ridiculous rates is very alarming when its effect is taken cumulatively.
Profile Image for Ahmad Kordi.
19 reviews4 followers
December 21, 2016
به نظرم همه ي آدما تو زندگيشون هميشه در حال تصميم گيري و انتخاب كردن هستن مثلا من همين الاني كه دارم اين نوشته رو مينويسم يه جور انتخاب كردم كه اينكارو بكنم و مثلا يه جايي ديگه مشغول انجام دادن يه كار ديگه نباشم يا اگر يه زماني كسي اين نوشته رو بخونه اون لحظه انتخاب كرده كه اين نوشته رو بخونه حالا شايد مثال هايي كه زدم چيزايي مهمي نباشند و تاثير خاصي تو زندگيمون نداشته نباشن اما ما واسه هر انتخابايي كه ميكنيم چه چيزايي رو از دست ميديم؟ چه چيزايي رو بدست مياريم؟ معيار واسه درست بودن يا درست نبودن يه انتخاب چيه؟ از اون دسته آدماييم كه هميشه دنبال بهترين گزينه هستيم وكلي چيزارو در قبال اون از دست ميديم؟ بري شوارتز واسه همه ي اين سوال وكلي سوال ديگه يه جوابا ونظريه هايي داره كه جالب به نظر ميان والبته ارايه يه سري راهكارها براي بهبود تصميم گيري هامون.
راستش من اول متن اصلي اين كتابو شروع كردم اما بعدش فهميدم كه محمدرضا شعبانعلي اون ترجمه كرده ولي به صورت صوتي كه گوشش دادم مثل بقيه كارهاش عالي بود اما همونجوري كه خودش ابتداي بحث ميگه يه ذره خلاصه شده هس اين فايلا اما در كل چيز خاصي نيست كه به اصل موضوع لطمه بزنه در هر صورت چه خوندن متن اصلي چه گوش دادن به فايل ترجمه شده يه تجربه ي لذت بخش و آموزندس.
Profile Image for David Rubenstein.
801 reviews2,503 followers
May 31, 2010
It sounds so non-intuitive; why are less happy when we are given many choices, than when we have few or even none? I was rather skeptical at first. However, this book explains, in a very readable way, why this is so. It has to do with the difference between objective and subjective results. Objectively, when given a choice, we end up with a superior result. When given a choice, we end up with a better match to our desires; a better vacation, a better partner, a better car, a better stereo, a better cereal, a better college. But we judge our happiness in an subjective manner. We consider all the possibilities that we did not choose as "opportunities that were lost". We feel regret, and we compare our outcomes with those of other people. As a result, we feel less happy.
One of the things that really helps the author's arguments, are the research results that he, personally conducted as a psychology professor.
Profile Image for Denis Vasilev.
604 reviews86 followers
August 31, 2017
Классика. Цитируется во многих книгах про принятие решений, психологию выбора.
Profile Image for Mario Tomic.
159 reviews301 followers
December 16, 2015
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 good choice. Moreover the book talks about 2 different ways to make decisions, the author divided people into "Maximizers" and "Satisficers".
Maximizers are people who tend to search all the options, gather all possible information in order to make the best possible choice. This consumes a lot of time, and often leads to doubts and stress, especially when no one clear winner. Satisficers are those who settle for a choice that is "good enough" to fit their needs. What the author argues is that satisficers are generally happier with their choice, and spend less time choosing, leaving them free to enjoy other things. Since we live in the age where we have to make hundreds of choices on a daily basis and thousands of choices in our life having too much of autonomy is making us unhappy. The practical takeaway from this book is that we should mostly aim to be satisficers, rather than maximizers. On top of at we should proactively try to eliminate as many low value low impact choices as we can in order to focus on what really matters in life. Very interested book, highly recommended!
Profile Image for Nicholas Karpuk.
Author 4 books60 followers
April 10, 2009
"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 rather succinctly sums up the solutions Mr. Schwartz feels we have available in regards to our indecision towards our lives.

It's a deeply thought provoking book, so instead of trying to summarize his points, almost all of which I agree with, I suggest you do a search on Barry Schwartz in Google Videos or Youtube, as several lectures by him are available.

Explaining the real science behind why chasing the dollar and comparing your success to others produces misery has genuinely changed my outlook on how to handle choice in a culture of overwhelming possibilities.
Profile Image for Hilary.
350 reviews7 followers
June 7, 2007
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 understand myself better and may help me be a happier person in the future by concentrating less on the things that are unimportant.
Profile Image for D.
239 reviews50 followers
February 15, 2016
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.
Profile Image for Karam Elkezit.
29 reviews3 followers
March 13, 2019
As societies advances, our number of choices advance with them,whether its buying shampoo or chosing a career we are always faced with an increasing number of choices, but as we spend more energy and time to make a simple choice, we end up losing much more.

Things like :tradeoffs, guilt ,regret, social comparisons and expectations... can only leed to a loss of happiness no matter how good the choice is.

What we think is an upgrade for life in our time only makes us more stressful than we were years ago.

In a world full of limitless choices its better to be a satisficer than a maximizer, to find a good apple and stop when you find it rather than try and explore every single option and end up regreting not taking the next red apple, and not enjoying the one that clearly was good for you.

I loved the last paragraph of the book, about the caricature of a fish and his son in a fishbowl, it gives a simple yet perfect image of the paradox of choice
" "You can be anything you want to be—no limits,”says the myopic parent fish to its offspring, not realizing how limited an existence the fishbowl allows. But is the parent really myopic? Living in the constrained, protective world of the fishbowl enables this young fish to experiment, to explore, to create,to write its life story without worrying about starving or being eaten. Without the fishbowl, there truly would be no limits. But the fish would have to spend all its time just struggling to stay alive. Choice within constraints, freedom within limits, is what enables the little fish to imagine a host of marvelous possibilities. "

Ps: i made the wrong choice of listening to the audiobook instead of reading it, and couldn't focus at times, but then again i found a way to read it and i enjoy it, and that in a satisficer's way was enough 😁.
Profile Image for Kristi Thielen.
319 reviews6 followers
August 20, 2011
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," because with many things in life, this really is going to be "best" for you. Learn to grow where you are planted; learn to let go of regret, accept that the great excitement about something today will fade with time, because we adapt to novelty. Stop paying attention to what others around you are doing (or how WELL they are doing) and remember that "he who dies with the most toys, wins," is a bumper sticker, not an exercise in wisdom.

All this is fine and good but the book suffers from two problems, only the first of which can be blamed on the author:

1. This is a good magazine-length article, which seems to have been padded to create a book.

2. I found this in the "science" section of Borders Bookstore and therefore expected a more scholarly tone. It should more appropriately be shelved in "Self-Help," as the author assumes the reader is a "maximizer" in need of converting.

If you have an overly materialistic and obsessive friend, do a good deed and give this book to them. If you really aren't a maximizer . . . don't worry about reading this. Get on with life.
Profile Image for Pietrino.
147 reviews194 followers
July 16, 2017
When I was a kid, I remember my dad that after shaved his beard and was about to use his cologne, he stared at all the bottles on the shelves and in his calabrian accent said something that means "abundance is like dearth". This is why I felt I was reading something really personal.

Anyway, this book is pure gold, although it won't probably tell you anything you're not already aware of, is going to put you in the mood of this simple concept the book is focused on: Too much is not good, supporting his points with examples you're going to fall for, and with scientific proofs as well (which I love). I do not agree with all of his points, but his main message I think its pretty good and useful to keep in mind.

Bonus points for linking the subject with anxiety and depression.

The only flaw: it was written in 2004, so in a way pretty osoblete since the world completely changed, but on the other end I found it pretty actual though.
Profile Image for Sourya Dey.
94 reviews4 followers
April 5, 2018
This book is really good in a few places, but repetitive for the most part. The subject matter is very interesting - why we (the developed world in particular) are getting more depressed despite our standard of living ostensibly rising with each passing day? A lot of the explanations are common sense if you think about it, such as too much choice is a bad thing, social comparisons make us sad, and losing something after having it is worse than not having it at all. I enjoyed the conclusions of the book, but find myself wishing that it would have been 2/3rds of its actual length. I would recommend this book as intermittent reading or for skimming through.
Profile Image for James.
Author 13 books1,199 followers
January 3, 2009
This and Borges' "Library of Babel" are the two works that best describe sites such as this.

Highly recommended.
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