Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Paradox of Choice : Why More is Less by Barry Schwartz

The Paradox of Choice : Why More is Less by Barry Schwartz, explains Choice are not always freedom. Self-determination that we enjoy at some points might turn to psychologically and emotionally dangerous.

In everyday life you have to face many decision making points be it shopping, education, work, health care,.. and day by day these decisions are increasingly becoming very complex due to too many abundance of choices we have today. General assumption is more choices means freedom, better decision and greater satisfaction. But due to excessive choices, we often end-up questioning our decisions after we make them and often, we set unrealistic(high) expectations. Result: we have no one to blame except us for our failures or inabilities that leads to decision-making paralysis, anxiety and perpetual stress. Growing up we are taught no excuse for failure and not to fall short of perfection since options are endless.

Author explains profound challenges of today's daily life balancing with family, career and our needs and how paradoxically its become problem instead of solutions. Schwartz highlight our obsession with choice encourage us to seeks options and still how end-up feeling worse. By synthesizing scientific studies and social research, author makes the interesting case -- Eliminating choice might result in stress, anxiety reduction. Author also explains some practical approach to limit choices in managing various aspects and have discipline to focus only on important decision by ignoring others and one which derive greater satisfaction.

Very interesting monolog and read. If this subject is too dry or uninteresting for you then you can also take look at brief(15mins) google video presentation by the author, explaining how & why abundance of choice in modern society is actually making us miserable.


Lotus Reads said...

Great review and I totally get what the author is saying. Just to speak of choice, recently I decided to go back to school...what might have been an easy decision in India is turning into a really difficult one here (Canada) because of the immense choice of subjects that different colleges offer. I have been playing with my choices for nearly 2 months now and I still don't know what to pick! Ugh!

Ashish Gupta said...

Via your comment on my librarything...

I too loved this book because of interesting psychological experiments. I had always this feeling but was refreshing to see confirmation, even then explaining others is not easy because people always associate choice with independence and freedom. In the end, it's may well be futile thing because human society will not accept moving back to less choices consciously.