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The Art of Choosing | [Sheena Iyengar]

The Art of Choosing

Sheena Iyengar asks the difficult questions about how and why we choose: Is the desire for choice innate or bound by culture? Why do we sometimes choose against our best interests? How much control do we really have over what we choose? Sheena Iyengar's award-winning research reveals that the answers are surprising and profound.
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Publisher's Summary

Every day we make choices. Coke or Pepsi? Save or spend? Stay or go?

Whether mundane or life-altering, these choices define us and shape our lives. Sheena Iyengar asks the difficult questions about how and why we choose: Is the desire for choice innate or bound by culture? Why do we sometimes choose against our best interests? How much control do we really have over what we choose? Sheena Iyengar's award-winning research reveals that the answers are surprising and profound.

In our world of shifting political and cultural forces, technological revolution, and interconnected commerce, our decisions have far-reaching consequences. Use The Art of Choosing as your companion and guide for the many challenges ahead.

©2010 Sheena Iyengar (P)2010 Hachette

What the Critics Say

"Iyengar writes in a lucid, catchy style, very much in the Malcolm Gladwell vein of pop psychology–cum–social commentary, but with more rigor. The result is a delightful, astonishing take on the pitfalls of making up one's mind." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

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3.8 (84 )
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  •  
    Davide Loganville, GA, USA 07-17-10
    Davide Loganville, GA, USA 07-17-10 Member Since 2010
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    "Good Book"

    An interesting book. It is true that some experiments the author quotes are quite dated, and known, but for the general public is a good read. I didn't understand till the end that the author is blind, and that made me appreciate even more her effort, and the determination with which she chose to live her life and become a PhD! She is a great positive example to keep in mind, someone who was able to triumph no matter the adversities. Still her book doesn't answer how is possible that someone like her becomes such a worthy member of society, no matter the adversities, and someone else, who didn't have hard challenges in life like the author, just becomes a meth addict. I'm impressed by this woman, and eventually I will buy any future book she will write, because she does give a lot of good ideas to ponder upon.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joshua Kim Etna, NH, United States 06-10-12
    Joshua Kim Etna, NH, United States 06-10-12 Member Since 2005

    mostly nonfiction listener

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    "Choosing 'The Art of Choosing'"

    I decided to read Sheena Iyengar's new book, The Art of Choosing, after watching her TED Talk.

    The opportunity to give a TED Talk must rank just below inclusion in the Oprah book club. Does anyone know just how big the book selling boost is for authors appearing on TED?
    Sheena Iyengar is best known for her jam experiment. This is the experiment that Barry Schwartz made famous in his 2004 book, The Paradox of Choice. In the experiment,
    Iyengar found that shoppers were much less likely to purchase a jar of jam when presented with many choices (at a tasting booth), in comparison with shoppers who were invited to sample only a few varieties. The conventional wisdom that more choice is always beneficial does not always seem to hold true.

    Iyenagar's choice research has been influential in my world of course design and learning technology. We understand that it is often preferable to limit the number of tools available to faculty in a learning management system, as installing every extension or building block may cause instructors to choose to entirely forgo the use of any tool (such as discussion boards or wikis). As the learning management system has ballooned into a central campus portal, the need to constantly "edit down" non-core learning functions continues to grow. An increasing number of campus stakeholders may request links in the LMS (everything from events to athletics), requests that we need to weigh against the costs of diminishing the utilization of tools that promote active learning.

    The Art of Choosing fits nicely into a growing body of behavior economics, brain research, and cognitive psychology that explores the limits of our own decision making abilities. Dan Ariely and Jonah Lehrer have written some of the best books in this tradition. One of my big take-aways from The Art of Choosing is that we may be poor decision makers, but our difficulties in choosing are often culturally influenced. Iyengar is much better at conducting cross-cultural studies on choice and behavior than other researchers in this field, perhaps a result of her growing up as a child of immigrants.
    What factors would convince you to choose to take the time to watch Iyengar's TED Talk?

    Have any of you made the choice to read The Art of Choosing?

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ray Glendale, AZ, United States 06-15-10
    Ray Glendale, AZ, United States 06-15-10 Member Since 2008
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    "Collectivism versus the individual"

    Good book, but her collectivist bias comes through too strong.

    When discussing the religious as compared to the non-religious she says the religious have had their choices taken away. Seems trivial in context, but had she said something to the effect that the religious have chosen to live by certain strictures of faith, she would have been both more accurate, and objective (she was examining American adults who had the ability to walk away from their chosen faith).

    She also makes a series of value statements concerning the superiority of the collective versus the individual without actually making a case as to why the collectivist is superior. Populist language that highlights the seeming humility of the collectivist and the ego of the individual passes as evidence instead.

    History shows us that the more collectivist cultures are more easily led, and less likely to resist dictators. Germany in WW1 and WW2, Imperial Japan, Soviet Russia, the tragedy of Communist China, Pol Pot, and so on. They were all made possible, by the same collectivist cultures that she seeks to portray as superior here.

    Still, a good book for the research, and I would recommend it, but it needs to be approached with a wary eye.

    6 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael New Albany, IN, USA 04-04-10
    Michael New Albany, IN, USA 04-04-10 Member Since 2005
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    "Read something else on decision making"

    I am an avid "reader" of audiobooks on sociology and marketing. This was one of the few that I couldn't even make it through the first 3 hours. This seems to be more of a story about this person's life than something that will help explain why people make certain choices.

    9 of 17 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Catarina Stockholm, Sweden 04-20-14
    Catarina Stockholm, Sweden 04-20-14 Member Since 2007
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    "Descriptive and leaves you with "so what?""

    I bought this book as I had heard an interview with Sheena Iyengar where she outlined the future of leadership and the necessity of prioritisation, and was hoping to learn more about choosing and how to use picky choices in my life. This book however describes all sorts of research and examples of choosing without taking the reader a step further to point out how to use this in business, life, leadership or politics. Very dissappointing book and a fairly boring contribution by a woman who otherwise seems to be absolutely brilliant.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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