Tuesday, June 30, 2020

The Paradox of Choice- A Book Review by Sutton


By Barry Schwartz,

Reviewed by

  Geoffrey W. Sutton

I'm in the market for a new tablet. There are so many good choices. There are things I like about Apple and Android. Then I think about getting close to a lightweight laptop--so, I think about Windows. Schwartz is right--at least based on my experience!

Schwartz attributes his thinking about The Paradox of Choice to the preparation of an article on self-determination for the American Psychologist.

In this 265-page paperback, he explores the "darker side" of freedom using humor, examples from daily life, and easily understood accounts of psychological research to illustrate the psychological cost of an over-abundance of choice. 

In the prologue, Schwartz grants that choice is essential to autonomy, which in turn provides the grounds for well-being. However, his thesis is that at some point, "choice no longer liberates, but debilitates" (p. 2).

Schwartz observes that learning to choose is difficult and it is even hard to choose wisely--especially when there are so many options. Schwartz also notes that not having choices is almost unbearable. And, interestingly, when we have an opportunity to change our minds, the odds increase that we will change our minds!

He wisely advises us to:

 Think about our goals and choose items or actions related to our goals.

"Focus on what makes you happy, and do what gives meaning to your life”

 Choose something that is good enough and don't worry about getting something better.

Here's my closer:

“According to a survey conducted by Yankelovich Partners, a majority of people want more control over the details of their lives, but a majority of people also want to simplify their lives. There you have it—the paradox of our times.”

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Watch Barry Schwartz TED Talk on The Paradox of Choice

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