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The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less | [Barry Schwartz]

The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less

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 the important ones and ignore the rest, and ultimately derive greater satisfaction from the choices you have to make.
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Publisher's Summary

In the spirit of Alvin Tofflers' Future Shock, a social critique of our obsession with choice, and how it contributes to anxiety, dissatisfaction and regret.

Whether were 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.

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.

©2004 Barry Schwartz (P)2010 Audible, Inc.

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.8 (428 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Marco 07-01-15
    Marco 07-01-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Excellent book"

    got a lot of insight from it, I totally recomend it for business people ;)

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Luke Murray 06-29-15
    Luke Murray 06-29-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Blew my brains out"

    The single biggest thing you can do to improve the quality of your life is to improve the quality of your decisions. This is something that I knew going into reading this book but how true it was and how bad I was at it became shockingly clear. This is one of those few books that will literally change my life (in this case, by changing my process for making decisions and subsequently the amount of happiness I'm able to experience once I've made them)

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Muriel 05-31-15
    Muriel 05-31-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Interesting food for thought!"
    Would you listen to The Paradox of Choice again? Why?

    I found the ideas presented in this book fascinating and exactly relevant to several situations I had recently faced. Hearing the psychology and social factors affecting our perceptions of choice and happiness really helped me put things in perspective. Many of the ideas may have seemed repetitive due to the subtle nuances between them, but I enjoyed the thought exercise of listening to this.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Paradox of Choice?

    The distinction between choices and attitudes that delight and empower and the choices that detract from overall quality of life.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    There were plenty of examples, which I always like.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The idea that good enough was actually in many ways the optimal option!


    Any additional comments?

    Many people seem to have commented negatively about the narration style, but I found it just fine! Of course, there were a few odd pauses and pronunciations of certain words that I wouldn't have used, but such is life - overall, very clear and engaging.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Denise R California 05-29-15
    Denise R California 05-29-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Bad"

    A bit outdated, and a bit too Andy Rooney. Another reviewer somewhere said the shortcomings of this book are the result of an academic writing books for the masses, and I have to say I agree with that statement. I LIKE academic stuff, but this book is mostly stuff you already knew. And the man reading sounds condescending, and a little like Stewie Griffin. His inflection is far too repetitive and his pronunciation of some words actually irked me as time went on.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    robert tidyman 04-24-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Interesting perspective :)"

    Good book... Good for people in new car sales.... Especially if you cars have a lot of options.... Can help you diagnose what type of decision maker you are working with

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    kristina m baxter 04-22-15 Member Since 2014
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    "super relevant, killed by redundancy"

    I never would have imagined that I was so strongly impacted by the theory of this book. The number of examples provided, however, almost became unbearable. This would have been a stronger read had theory been applied by the author using fewer pages. I also found the narrator to have a sharp voice that added to the difficulty of seeing my way through the entire book. Ultimately, I did learn a lot from this book.There is something to be said for good enough sometimes.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sanjay 03-22-15
    Sanjay 03-22-15
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    "Great Book!!"

    lots of things to learn from this book. This book presents a very excellent view on options and how these options impacts us.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Evan 03-18-15
    Evan 03-18-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Watch the TED talk"
    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    The narrator seemed to approach this book like he was reading Charles Dickens. Not really appropriate here. After watching the TED talk by Barry Schwartz it is difficult to listen to this narrator.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Addicted to Amazon Austin, TX 10-13-14
    Addicted to Amazon Austin, TX 10-13-14 Member Since 2015

    Gavriel

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    "Glad I listened, but keep an open mind"

    Gav's Notes Review (like Cliff Notes...read below for a full review)

    In keeping with my usual form, I present my grade of 3 stars (read below for what that means to me.)

    The two things I did not like the most about the book.

    a) The cramming down my throat about how horrible the author feels about how many options we have...like all the different college classes available or the number of jeans available.

    b) The fabricating of facts to justify the above feelings...i.e. using Havard and Princeton as examples for how many options college students have in picking a degree and how there is no foundation of education classes in college anymore. I would say about 95% of schools require their student to fulfill a core curriculum and its hardly proof to the contrary when a couple ivy league school choose a different route.

    The two things I like/took away from the book

    a) choices do not equal freedom, therefore having more choices does not make us more free...he goes on about how many people think this to be true and I think he has a good point. He then goes south and hypotheses that our palathra of choices leads to things like clinical depression and others psychological problems that have increased with more choices. He doesn't prove this to be causation or even present evidence that this is more than correlation, just states it as his opinion...what?!?!

    b) I like some of the examples he makes and points he brings up. I found the most value in the more subtle points he mentions like how more options wastes time if we try to research most or all of them and how we generally find a characteristic, i.e. a brand, to limit our choices and once we make a choice we generally do not re-evaluate the choices once new options are presented.

    Overall it is an interesting read, provided you can tune out the "preaching" of the author. The narrator seems a bit off for this book and grates on the ears, in my opinion, or maybe I was already bothered by the words he was saying so he seemed to bother me too.

    Either way the book is worth a read but I would get it on sale or from the library. its not helped by being 10 years old so the authors doom and gloom hypothesis seems foolish now.

    1 Star = I could not finish it
    2 Stars = I finished it but would not recommend it to a friend.
    3 Stars = I read it and would recommend it but do not plan on reading it again.
    4 Stars = I read it, recommend it and would read it again
    5 Stars = I read it, recommend it and will add it to my annual reading collection

    Usually when an author has a point to make they realize its best to present the evidence and let the listener draw their own conclusions. That is the point of critical thinking.
    However, this author presents all evidence like it is the downfall of society, from the number of classes the average college student can pick form now, vs what he did in college...to the number of TV shows one can pick when including the "Tivo" options of today, when one can record any TV show. He worried that "two people hanging around the water cooler will have no shows in common because of all the choices." The fallacy is obvious 10 years later, with Netflix and other services allowing even more options there are still hit TV shows that everyone watches.
    And this shows the true value of this book. Not so much in the points the author tries to shove down your throat but in the subtler points he makes about topics like time waisted with more options and his best point, choices do not equal freedom, therefore more choices do not equal greater freedom.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    CT 05-10-14
    CT 05-10-14
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    "Bad narration and not enough insight"

    I have given up on listening because the narration is so poor and there's not enough insight or original thought to overcome that problem. Maybe the basic idea can't be stretched out into a full-length book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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