The Paradox Of Choice: Why More Is Less

Paperback | January 18, 2005

byBarry Schwartz

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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 401(k), everyday decisions—both big and small—have become increasingly complex due to the overwhelming abundance of choice with which we are presented.

As Americans, we assume that more choice means better options and greater satisfaction. But beware of excessive choice: choice overload can make you question the decisions you make before you even make them, it can set you up for unrealistically high expectations, and it can make you blame yourself for any and all failures. In the long run, this can lead to decision-making paralysis, anxiety, and perpetual stress. And, in a culture that tells us that there is no excuse for falling short of perfection when your options are limitless, too much choice can lead to clinical depression.

In The Paradox of Choice, Barry Schwartz explains at what point choice—the hallmark of individual freedom and self-determination that we so cherish—becomes detrimental to our psychological and emotional well-being. In accessible, engaging, and anecdotal prose, Schwartz shows how the dramatic explosion in choice—from the mundane to the profound challenges of balancing career, family, and individual needs—has paradoxically become a problem instead of a solution. Schwartz also shows how our obsession with choice encourages us to seek that which makes us feel worse.

By synthesizing current research in the social sciences, Schwartz makes the counter intuitive case that eliminating choices can greatly reduce the stress, anxiety, and busyness of our lives. He offers eleven practical steps on how to limit choices to a manageable number, have the discipline to focus on those that are important and ignore the rest, and ultimately derive greater satisfaction from the choices you have to make.

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From the Publisher

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 401(k), everyday decisions—both big and small—have become increasingly complex due to the overwhelming abundance of choice with which we are presented.As Americans, we assume that mo...

From the Jacket

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 401(k), everyday decisions—both big and small—have become increasingly complex due to the overwhelming abundance of choice with which we are presented.As Americans, we assume that mo...

Barry Schwartz is the Dorwin Cartwright Professor of Social Theory and Social Action at Swarthmore College. He is the author of several books, includingThe Battle for Human Nature: Science, Morality and Modern LifeandThe Costs of Living: How Market Freedom Erodes the Best Things in Life.His articles have appeared in many of the leading...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:304 pages, 8 × 5.31 × 0.68 inPublished:January 18, 2005Language:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0060005696

ISBN - 13:9780060005696

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Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very insigthful about our purchasing decisions Have you ever felt buyer's remorse after purchasing an item you have agonized over selecting? You may be a 'maximizer' and are always trying to make the 'best' choice to your own detriment. This book has quoted several studies that show how our society is adapting to all of the choices in our lives so quickly that we feel less pleasure in our purchases each time we make them because we doubt our decisions.
Date published: 2008-09-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A great book to examine your consumption habits. This book talks about the fact that in today's society we're faced with many choices. Be it in our personal lives or at the mall. While many of us believe that having so much choice in our lives, we're better off. In reality, it can only hurt us. Schwartz discusses it in depth and asks us to examine our own lives and how much we consume. You can be a satisfier or a maximizer, either way there is room for inprovement. It has given me the opportunity to examine my life and how i can change it. I would suggest this book to anyone who wants to examine if their life is as fulfilling as it could be.
Date published: 2006-05-09

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Editorial Reviews

“With its clever analysis, buttressed by sage New Yorker cartoons, The Paradox of Choice is persuasive.”