The Paradox of Choice

Why More is Less
Narrated by: Ken Kliban
Length: 7 hrs and 2 mins
4 out of 5 stars (1,331 ratings)

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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 listeners say about The Paradox of Choice

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    4 out of 5 stars

The Tyranny of Pop Economics

A solid survey of behavioral economics literature related to the premise that the wide range of choices we have (what to read, how to read it, what rating to give it, where to post our review) actually ends up making us unhappier (tyranny of small decisions). Schwartz's summary is similar to a lot of those pop-economic books that seem to pop up regularly and sell quite well because they both tell us something we kinda already suspected, but also gently surprise us with counter-intuitive ideas at the same time. We are surprised, we are also a little validated: just little bit of supply with a very light touch demand.

This book belongs snug on the bookshelf next to: anything by Malcolm Gladwell, Freakonomics, Predictably Irrational, Nudge, Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me), etc. All interesting, all worth the time (as long as the time is < 5 hrs), but none of them are brilliant. They are all Gladwell-like in their reductionism (this is why they all sell so well to the business community and are pimped heavily by Forbes to TED). I am both attracted and repelled by the form. They seem to span the fissure between academic and pop, between economics and self-help. I read them and I end up feeling like I know a bit more about myself, and NOW I'm just disappointed in that bastard for a couple more rational reasons.

95 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Very true...

Satisficers really do enjoy life more than maximizers. This I think is particularly true in a marriage.

10 people found this helpful

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The narration took away from the material for me.

What made the experience of listening to The Paradox of Choice the most enjoyable?

The second half was useful because it was expanded material built on the first half which was material I had already read in other works.

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

I often got distracted by the way the reader would just read what we're obviously section headers straight through and continue on to the text of the section. I had to mentally stop to put the organization of the work together in my head when a section header should have been an obvious part to help organize it. Setting section header off in the reading, as in the actual text, would make the reading much more coherent.

This is not the first audio book to be read this way, but it certainly was distracting to me.

Would you be willing to try another one of Ken Kliban’s performances?

Not in non-fiction

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

No

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Interesting

This work caused me to realize that much of the stress of my life is related to the infinite list of possibilities and choices that I have to make. It also gave me a set of strategies for dealing with that stress.

12 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Great idea, repetitive & boring first hour

After watching TED talk and liking what I heard, I thought I'd pick up the audio book and get into some more detail.

Sadly after an hour I gave up. The first few chapters are extremely repetitive. He lists choice lists over and over again. ... 'and then you have medical insurance'. option 1, 2,3,4... 'and then you have cookies' chocolate chip, oatmeal... over and over again. I had to give up. Maybe the book will get better in the following chapters, but after an hour I decided to give up and switch to the next audiobook I'd grabbed.

From what I listened to, you could get most of the information from the above 20minute TED talk.

37 people found this helpful

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Awesome book for overcoming perfectionism

What did you love best about The Paradox of Choice?

The author made it clear not only how much the phenomenon of "overchoice" affects us, but how to overcome it.

What other book might you compare The Paradox of Choice to and why?

I've really never read anything similar.

What three words best describe Ken Kliban’s voice?

Aloof, clipped, and unemotional

What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

The way to enjoy your choices more is to impose your own limits on choice.

Any additional comments?

As a recovering perfectionist, I found this book to be a wonderful guide to living a simpler, more satisfying life by limiting the choices that I have to make and by consciously choosing the amount of value that I assign to the choices that I do make.

5 people found this helpful

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Good information, distracting narration

Would you be willing to try another one of Ken Kliban’s performances?

Not likely. He had an almost forced steady rate of speech and he seemed to place too much emphasis/stress in the "ity" for words such as "opportunity" and "possibility" which was rather distracting once I noticed it.

Any additional comments?

I will likely go back and review parts of this book again, but I would get a physical copy because of the narration.

5 people found this helpful

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Hard to follow

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

Different Narrator and more stories I could relate to. Easier to follow.

What was most disappointing about Barry Schwartz’s story?

I think it had a lot to do with the narrator.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

Boring and not dynamic in areas.

4 people found this helpful

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If you have seen the TedTalk don’t buy the book

I picked up this book after watching Barry’s TedTalk (Which I highly recommend to anyone struggling with taking decisions), hoping to expand further on the topic. The book’s idea is great but the storytelling is awful and very repetitive. The point could have been transmitted in less than half of the length of the book.

3 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars

Good Book

I really enjoyed the information and ideas conveyed in this book, however I found the narration hard to listen to for any length of time. My next step is to pick up the hard copy.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Angus Rissik
  • 08-22-16

Some great tools on simplifying life, well worth a read / listen

The first half was interesting but I didn't feel I was picking up tools on how to deal with the issues identified. The second half is full of really actionable gems. In hindsight you probably need to first half to set the scene. Great book. Well worth a read unless you never find yourself frustrated trying to make a decision about anything.

6 people found this helpful

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  • M. Millward
  • 11-11-15

Great Book Full of Insight

The boom has fantastic enlightening content that can be used in a variety of applications, from personal development to marketing strategies.
The narration however is awful - but bear with it - it's worth it!

4 people found this helpful

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  • Bex
  • 03-14-20

OK - perhaps better physically reading it.

I got the concepts and appreciate the 'less is more approach'
I didn't find the book easy to listen to in comparison to others I've heard. It's one of those that will require a 2nd or 3rd hearing. Possibly better physically reading it.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Danny and Emma
  • 02-12-20

It’s okay

More of a self help guide than what I thought. The narrator, I personally, found a little robotic and, well, boring to be honest.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Paul B.
  • 08-07-19

Great book, the narrator's intonation grates tho!

I love the concepts in the book, they are dealt with in an informative and accessible way with some tests and practical things you can assess about yourself. I just wish the narrator would change the tone he uses at the end of every single sentence. It grates a lot although after an hour or two I learned to tune out. I guess I adapted lol!

2 people found this helpful

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  • Harry Barker
  • 02-13-19

Great!

Great book. Very relevent to the modern consumer or anyone with an interest in mental health

2 people found this helpful

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  • Jaimon
  • 04-21-20

Expected more although worthy

I Came to this book attracted from the talk he the author offered. I found the talk brilliant and the book not as interesting as the talk made it seem it was going to be , all in all I learned a great deal of things I can totally relate to. I’ll take all those little lessons and try to make the most of them! Worthy
NOTE: Just bear in mind that this audio matches the first edition of the book

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anastasia
  • 12-09-18

Great book, lots of useful insight

This book opened my eyes to a lot of things I hadn't considered about making choices and the satisfaction you derive from them. Listening to this has helped me wrap my mind around a number of useful concepts and I intend to follow the advice for action provided to ease decision making and let go of regret about past choices. This book can potentially bring a lot of value to you as it did for me, especially if you struggle with making choices or always wonder if you made the right decision.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Brent
  • 07-09-18

Amazing

Excellent book. Thoughtful and well written. This is the type of thing you should know however you need to hear in order to understand. It helped me greatly and will be a go to for years to come.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Valentin Ursu
  • 08-02-20

The reading is an abomination

The reader is incredibly bad, it made me think constantly how good it would be to be able to choose between multiple narrators while listening to a book about how bad multiple choices are.
The way he raises his tone at the end of almost every sentence is bad enough but the fact that he does not respect punctuation marks, that he does not respect commas where the author put them but ads his own, most likely due to cuts because he was too incompetent to get the sentence from start to finish, makes it almost impossible to listen.
on this audiobook, we need choice, we need a competent narrator to redo this book, and when everyone chooses the other narrator over this one, it will prove how bad this one is. The book proves while too many choices is bad, the audiobook proves why only one choice is bad.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 02-27-20

Great book!

Absolutely loved this book. So relevant to the world we live in. Good insights and useful tips that everyone can use.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-12-19

An interesting but tedious reading/listening.

Endless and pointless shopping list in the first two chapters. interesting researches but boring with the level of details.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 08-05-19

Thank you

This book was life changing. Thank you Barry Schwartz for helping us maximisers to be happier! Well performed and easy to listen to.

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  • Michael H
  • 01-12-19

I loved this book

I loved this book so much I listened to it all in one day. Many of us have wondered why it is so tough to make even simple decisions in this complex world we live in. This book explains why it can be very difficult when we are faced with too many choices and the book clearly shows that the modern world has far too many choices for us. There was a lot of information in the book I'd never heard before.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-21-17

Great concept - important learnings for everyone

Loved it. Heavy in information, and was a struggle to absorb while driving. One I'll listen to again, and probably while I can take down notes and learnings

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  • Karl
  • 09-16-16

Very good book, bad first 2 chapters

If you can battle through the first two chapters, the rest of the book is great.

Highly recommended read :)

1 person found this helpful