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The Art of Choosing

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  5,080 Ratings  ·  433 Reviews
Every day we make choices. Coke or Pepsi? Save or spend? Stay or go?


Whether mundane or life-altering, these choices define us and shape our lives. Sheena Iyengar asks the difficult questions about how and why we choose: Is the desire for choice innate or bound by culture? Why do we sometimes choose against our best interests? How much control do we really have over what we
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Hardcover, 329 pages
Published March 1st 2010 by Twelve (first published January 1st 2010)
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Jennifer
May 12, 2011 rated it liked it
I had to read this non-fiction book quite slowly, over the course of a month, annoying friends and colleagues by citing Iyengar's studies as they attempted to choose items off a menu, though even this slow pace wasn't long enough to really make the information stick in my brain.
Iyengar presents a rather overwhelming amount of information on her enormous and fascinating topic, mostly in the form of psychology experiments about how people choose things and make decisions both trivial and life or d
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Odai Al-Saeed
Jul 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
فقدت شيينا أينغار (مؤلفة الكتاب ) بصرها في عمر الخامسة عشر وهي التي جاءت من أبوين هندوسي الأصل هاجرا الى كندا فازدوجت بذلك هويتها وإختلطت بتلك التقاليد المعتقة مع فكر الغرب ،إن لهذه المؤلفة الحائزة على الدكتوراة حس فريد تحسد عليه ،،، تقول الكاتبة في مقدمة الكتاب عندما تقينت من فقدان بصرها: لا يهم مدى استعدادنا لمواجهة أمر ما ، بل أن يكون دائما بامكاننا التغلب على الشعور بالهزيمة
تستهل كتابها الشيق بتلك الخيارات التي انتقاها من هم آثروا البقاء على قيد الحياة تحت ضغوط كوارث واجهتهم وكيف كانت هي الع
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Prashant
Jun 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: awesome-reads
Here are a few lines from the wiki profile of the author


Sheena Iyengar was born in Toronto, Canada in 1969. Her parents had emigrated there from Delhi, India.
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When Iyengar was three years old, she was diagnosed with a rare form of retinitis pigmentosa, an inherited disease of retinal degeneration. By 6th grade, Iyengar had lost the ability to read, and by 11th grade, she had lost her sight entirely and could only perceive light. Iyengar’s life had also taken another t
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Ebrahim Abdulla
Dec 31, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
على مدى ما يقارب العقد من الزمان كانت شيينا إينغار - الأستاذة في جامعة كولومبيا الأمريكية- تبحث في موضوع قد يستحيل البحث فيه .. الاختيار . وما يزيد الموضوع صعوبةً هو أن شيينا ذات الأصول الهندية تنتمي لديانة السيخ المتشددة في تقاليدها وتعاليمها .. حيث تقرر الكثير من الأمور في حياة المنتمي لهذه الديانة من زواجه وحياته الخ .. مقللة من حرية الاختيار لدى الفرد

في هذا الكتاب شيينا لا تقدم إجابات جاهزة؛ فهي تحاول التغلغل في أساس الموضوع من جوانب عدة مثل : القدر في مقابل الحرية، الثقافات الإجتماعية وتأثي
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Trish
Apr 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing
By the time I finished this book I found I wanted to start it all over again. Sometimes I think I may have missed my calling, by not pursuing the field of decision-making. I am so bad at it, and yet I recognize that it is the key to navigating the modern world in the West, where the simplest decisions are rendered ridiculously complex by the plethora of choice.

Iyengar covers the waterfront with her examination of choice, from birth to death, and addresses many of the major life choices most of
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Salma
Jan 01, 2012 marked it as to-look-for  ·  review of another edition
لطالما كان اختيار أي شيء مهما كان بسيطا عملية ذهنية مرهقة و معقدة بالنسبة لي، مما جعل البطء إحدى سماتي، أتساءل إن كان هذا الكتاب يحيط بالموضوع بشكل مرض و مفيد أم لا
Rebecca McNutt
Jul 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Interesting little book that really makes its readers think about what they choose, whether it's their purchases, their friends or even the simple act of saying yes or no.
Max
Apr 18, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Outstanding and prolific, amazing book by an awesome author

"We do the same thing in our lives- embracing information that supports what we already prefer or vindicates choices we made. After all, it feels better to justify our opinions rather than challenge them"
-my pick of the quotes from the book

The Introduction is warm and amiable, you get to picture a little bit of the writer's life and character, events in her past which then shaped her life and including the project of this book, when you
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Mary
Jun 22, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: choice
Okay, so I'm probably starting out with a spoiler, but Sheela Iyengar is the person who conducted the jam study--that jam study! In books about choice, this is like being Keith Richards. For those of you unfamiliar, the jam study took place in a super-market: 20 kinds of jams on display to taste, people were less likely to buy a jam than 7 kinds of display. The magic number is 7 + or - 2, not coincidentally like how many items we can keep in our short-term memory. Iyengar, unlike some other auth ...more
Andrew
Apr 28, 2010 rated it liked it
This book discusses some research (by the author and others) about how we make choices, and how having too many choices can lead to difficult decision making. But it's interesting that the author chooses to ignore all the existing research that contradicts the point she is trying to make.

Take for example her "jam study", where people offered 6 varieties of jam samples were much more likely to buy jam in a store than those offered 24 different samples. The author is well aware that other research
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Wouter
Jun 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
I came across this book by accident so it wasn't a choice by adding it on my toread list. The more I read, the more it reminded me of a book I read last year; "Willpower" by mr. Baumeister, and I liked that book a lot. The Art of Choosing is a pleasant read full of stories and weird psychological/social experiments done in very different domains and it keeps on entertaining that way.
The only downside I can think of is that it's not a ver practical book; don't expect to learn the "3 rules of thu
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Hubert
Aug 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Effectively written: takes the issue of choice from various perspectives, cultural, psychological, evolutionary, and business. The beginning and the final chapters were the best; the book really takes off after she describes her Menlo Park jam experiment. In general the coolest parts of the book involved her description and distillation of important psychological experiments which involve the subject of choice.

One aspect of choice she may consider more deeply is how our morality affects decision
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عبدالرحمن عقاب
Jun 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
كتابٌ نافع مفيد. يعرض لمسألة اتخاذ القرارات من أكثر من زاوية نفسية وعصبية واجتماعية، مدعّم بالدراسات نتائج الأبحاث مما يزيده مصداقية وعمقًا في الطرح.

ويمتاز الكتاب كون صاحبته (المؤلفة) هي بحد ذاتها باحثة معروفة في هذا المضمار،وهي صاحبة تجربة الاختيار من بين أصناف المربى وهي تجربة شهيرة ومؤثرة في فهم الإنسان وقدرته على الاختيار من بين الخيارات المتعددة.

لن تجد في الكتاب دليلاً لأفضل طرق اتخاذ القرار، بل ستجد فيه فهمًا لتجربة اتخاذ القرار. (كيف ولماذا وما هي المؤثرات المنظورة وغير المنظورة في هذه ال
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Chhun
Oct 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
What I really learn about Sheena is that she taught me about her excitement and optimism in choosing. She didn't choose blindness, and being blind took many options off the table, but her bodily condition that she didn't choose let her to make the most of what she could choose.

Whether or not, we have to choose because we are the master of our choice; otherwise, we'll find ourselves trapped as a slave of choosing. Remember we have the power to go from where are today to where we want to be tomorr
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Fabio
Feb 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A autora passou décadas atuando no ramo de pesquisa sobre como as escolhas nos moldam e interferem em nossa visão de mundo. Ela fez sua pós-graduação em Standford e teve aulas com ninguém menos que Amos Tversky, pioneiro na ciência cognitiva e co-autor de diversas pesquisas e trabalhos realizados com Daniel KahnemanDaniel Kahneman .

Achei interessante como culturas influenciam na forma como fazemos nossas escolhas. Muitos preferem ser livre e ter opções para escolher, já outros preferem mais que
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Robyn Morgan
Aug 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: on-the-shelf
"Choice draws power from its promise of almost infinite possibility, but what is possible is also what is unknown. We can use choice to shape our lives, but we still face great uncertainty."

And sometimes, in some very special circumstances, it's better not to have any choices at all.

Charlotte
Mar 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this book. The author goes to great lengths to clarify why we make the choices we make. She looks at how we are raised helps influence how we approach decisions, how other influence us in the moment of making a choice, how we really feel about the choices we make and how even when you abstain from making a choice you are still making a choice.
I really enjoyed reading this as it was able to be both personal and informative. i hope this doesn't end up getting lumped in with "T
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Drani
Jan 10, 2011 rated it liked it
As the author detailed her social experiments on choice, I kept thinking how fun it would be to do those experiments. Being a social scientist sounds like fun! There's no but -- I still wish I could spend my day thinking of ways to see how people think.

I first heard of Sheena Iyengar when I saw her TED talk. She writes very much as she speaks -- very simply, personally, and engagingly. I was initially a little put off by her personal anecdotes, thinking that they didn't address her issues so muc
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Trish
Mar 03, 2010 rated it it was ok
p265: It is tempting to promote choice as the great equalizer--after all, that's what so many dreams, including the American one, are built on. ... We should not, however, take this to mean that faith, hope, and rhetoric alone are sufficient. Like the swimming rats in Richter's experiment, we can survive for only so long without solid ground beneath our feet; if the choices aren't real, sooner or later we will go under.

Diane S ☔
Apr 25, 2011 rated it liked it
Didn't like it quite as much as many of the reviewers on this site. Found the experminets with the rats (and I don't like rats) and the dogs (my uber dog lover Katherine would find these very disturbing) cruel to say the least. Also much of the book seemed to be what one could figure out using common sense. Did learn and few things and some parts of this book were more interesting than others.
HBalikov
Apr 20, 2010 is currently reading it
This is being compared to The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less by Barry Schwartz
Roberto Andonie
May 18, 2017 rated it liked it
There were two or three ideas here which by itself made the book worth it for me. One was more an examination of how choice is a modeling act, a defining action for our identity. The author uses the analogy of an sculpture in progress (our identity being the unfinished sculpture and choice is a tool to unearth it beneath all the marble of shoulds and shouldnts). But then, our identity, turns out, is a dynamic process rather than a static sculpture (conditions may change or we may change with tim ...more
Nilesh Injulkar
Mar 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: self-help
A lot of studies have been mentioned in the book, there are lot of interesting psychological experiments referenced to support the point the author is trying to make. That way this book is really nice collection, summary of studies and experiments about choice and various aspects of it.

Practically speaking, though, it has a lot of information about complex topic like choice. Many observations of experiments even contradict with others adding more complexity to the already complex topic.
If you e
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Lokesh Jindal
Jun 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Definitely raised some interesting points. I can definitely pick up some important tips and use them to become less obsessive about making the right choice. Anyway... I will have to give it a second read...
Josh
Jul 17, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
I'm not so crazy about this book. I feel its reach exceeds its grasp. First I thought it was the pop-science genre in general, but when I picked up Brian Christian's Most Human Human I couldn't put it down. In comparison The Art of Choosing is sluggish, and sometimes a little out of left field.

For example, in a study she did with a grad student, they tracked "hundreds of graduating college seniors" describing their ideal job over a six to nine month period that it took the subjects to find work
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Annie
Nov 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. It is written in the psychology/sociology arena similar to the Malcolm Gladwell style. There were some very interesting studies presented that give the reader insight into the decision making though process. It also identifies cultural differences effecting decision making. However, I didn't love how the book ended. It felt somewhat abrupt, non-encompassing and didn't clearly translate to me what I can do to improve my decision making process. The author did attempt t ...more
Utkarsh
Nov 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book generally talks about how we make decisions.

1. Our choices are determined by two opposing systems: the automatic and the reflective.
Marshmallow experiment.
Those who eat the marshmallow immediately- AUTOMATIC.
Delayed Gratification- REFLECTIVE.
Reflective system links to greater long term success.

2. We often use rules of thumb to help us make decisions, but these can be faulty.
While making the decisions our mind is biased towards the truth which is easily available to our memory.

3. We wa
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Christina
Jun 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
Really interesting look at all kinds of choices and how we view choice in our lives. The nursing home studies were interesting (residents given choices, even very unimportant ones, were less likely to die and happier), as were some of the others. In one, Indian arranged marriages were compared with marriages where the partners married for love. After ten years, those in arranged marriages were happier.

The main take-home message of the books is that people are very irrational when they make choic
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Karen
Jun 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Decision Making - what delicious fun and dreadful conundrums! Salesmen and teachers have always known that presentation matters, but Iyengar reveals just how much and why! In this exceedingly eclectic and very readable book, Iyengar discusses the tension between our automatic and reflective mental systems when making decisions. She explores the heuristics and biases present in cultural differences and the coping skills we use to diffuse cognitive dissonance. Iyengar is most famous for the "jam e ...more
Devika
Jul 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Simply written, engaging and thought-provoking. Iyengar shows how we have an inherent need to choose, even if we may have the tendency to succumb to 'akrasia' (going against our better judgement). Moreover, there is somewhat of a memory/learning built through not being able to choose, a sense of helplessness that snowballs into the way we deal with subsequent experiences in our life. In addition, how we perceive the individualism vs collectivism debate is a function of our cultural upbringing, a ...more
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Sheena Iyengar is the S.T. Lee Professor of Business at Columbia University and a recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award. She holds an undergraduate degree from the Wharton School of Business and a doctorate in social psychology from Stanford University. Her work is regularly cited in periodicals such as the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, Fortune and TIME.

Considered one of
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“What you see determines how you interpret the world, which in turn influences what you expect of the world and how you expect the story of your life to unfold.” 19 likes
“The great artist Michelangelo claimed that his sculptures were already present in the stone, and all he had to do was carve away everything else.
Our understanding of identity is often similar: Beneath the many layers of shoulds and shouldn’ts that cover us, there lies a constant, single, true self that is just waiting to be discovered.”
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