The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz
Why More Is Less

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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.


About Barry Schwartz

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Barry Schwartz is the Dorwin Cartwright Professor of Social Theory and Social Action at Swarthmore College. He is the author of several books, including The Battle for Human Nature: Science, Morality and Modern Life and The Costs of Living: How Market Freedom Erodes the Best Things in Life. His articles have appeared in many of the leading journals in his field, including the American Psychologist. He lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Published October 13, 2009 by HarperCollins e-books. 300 pages
Genres: Business & Economics, Health, Fitness & Dieting, Political & Social Sciences, Self Help, Science & Math, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Paradox of Choice

Publishers Weekly

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Like Thoreau and the band Devo, psychology professor Schwartz provides ample evidence that we are faced with far too many choices on a daily basis, providing an illusion of a multitude of options when

Jan 01 2004 | Read Full Review of The Paradox of Choice: Why Mo...

Suite 101

This book by Barry Schwartz examines why with so many choices there is so much angst and depression amid a higher standard of living than most of the world's people.

| Read Full Review of The Paradox of Choice: Why Mo...

Daily Kos

It won't stop me from being a proud and loyal Bernie Minion, though(please, nobody steal this yet, I'm working on it ;) ).

Aug 15 2015 | Read Full Review of The Paradox of Choice: Why Mo...

Business Insider

NetflixIn "Master of None," it takes Aziz Ansari's character so long to decide on where to get the best tacos, the truck is all out.In Barry Schwartz's seminal book, "The Paradox of Choice," we learn that while choice is a vital part of autonomy and fundamental to our well-being, too much choice ...

Dec 09 2015 | Read Full Review of The Paradox of Choice: Why Mo...

The Wall Street Journal

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Schwartz finds that when it comes to making decisions, people fall somewhere on the spectrum between two extremes: ” ‘maximizers’ (those who always aim to make the best possible choice) and ‘satisficers’ (those who aim for ‘good enough,’ whether or not better selections might be out there).” In t...

Apr 30 2009 | Read Full Review of The Paradox of Choice: Why Mo...

Education Week

SuperintendentDistrict Leadership - TechnologyDistrict Leadership - Curriculum, Instruction, Assessment, PDDistrict Leadership - Business, Communications, HRDistrict Personnel - Other (Admin., Specialist, etc.)School-based Leadership (Principal, Asst.

Sep 20 2016 | Read Full Review of The Paradox of Choice: Why Mo...

If you’re what you might call a market fundamentalist — if you think that markets work, that competition is good, and that freedom of choice is bound to make people better off — then you’re just not going to see contradictory evidence unless your face is rubbed in it.

Dec 18 2014 | Read Full Review of The Paradox of Choice: Why Mo...


Our social and economic system which is based in part on unequal distribution of scarce and highly desirable commodities inherently propels people into lives of perpetual social comparison and dissatisfaction, soreforming people without paying attention to the system won’t work.

Jun 08 2011 | Read Full Review of The Paradox of Choice: Why Mo...

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