The Para­dox of Choice: Why More Is Less

  • From the Publisher
February 24, 2014
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. 

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 coun­ter­in­tu­itive 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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