The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less (Revised Edition)

The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less (Revised Edition)

by Barry Schwartz
The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less (Revised Edition)

The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less (Revised Edition)

by Barry Schwartz

Paperback(Revised Edition)

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In the spirit of Alvin Toffler’s Future Shock, a social critique of our obsession with choice, and how it contributes to anxiety, dissatisfaction and regret. This paperback includes a new preface from the author.

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.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062449924
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 05/17/2016
Edition description: Revised Edition
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 56,577
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Barry Schwartz is the Dorwin Cartwright Professor of Social Theory and Social Action at Swarthmore College. He is the author of several books, including Practical Wisdom: The Right Way to Do the Right Thing, with Kenneth Sharpe, and Why We Work. His articles have appeared in many of the leading journals in his field, including American Psychologist.

Table of Contents

Preface to the New Edition ix

Acknowledgments xvii

Prologue: The Paradox of Choice: A Road Map 1

Part I When We Choose

Chapter 1 Let's Co Shopping 9

Chapter 2 New Choices 23

Part II How We Choose

Chapter 3 Deciding and Choosing 49

Chapter 4 When Only the Best Will Do 79

Part III Why We Suffer

Chapter 5 Choice and Happiness 103

Chapter 6 Missed Opportunities 121

Chapter 7 "If Only…": The Problem of Regret 151

Chapter 8 Why Decisions Disappoint: The Problem of Adaptation 171

Chapter 9 Why Everything Suffers from Comparison 185

Chapter 10 Whose Fault Is It? Choice, Disappointment, and Depression 205

Part IV What We Can Do

Chapter 11 What to Do About Choice 225

Notes 241

Index 265

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