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Barry Schwartz

The Paradox of Choice

We all want the opportunity to decide things for ourselves, rather than having our lives determined by others. However, the choices available in today's society can be overwhelming, and you may begin to wonder whether choice is such a good thing. In The Paradox of Choice:Why More is Less Barry Schwarz argues that it is not, and give some advice on what we can do about it.

The book begins with examples of the choice available on supermarket shelves, where there can all to easily be hundreds of versions of one product type. Maybe that isn't so difficult to deal with, but Schwarz goes on to point out areas such as health insurance and retirement planning where making the wrong choice can have serious consequences. What is presented as consumer choice can also be seen as a way to blame the customer if things don't turn out well.

Schwartz goes on to examines the ways we make choices. Some people are 'maximizers' - they put great effort in choosing the best possible option - whereas others are 'satisficers', who will accept the first thing which meets their criteria. The book also looks at why our choices don't always provide the benefits we hope for, and at the nature of regret.

The final chapter gives the readers advice on how to deal with the choices they face everyday. However, this isn't the sort of self-help book which pushes a plan down your throat, so even if you don't intend to change the way you make choices, it's worth reading for the insight which it gives into modern life.  |  Chronon Critical Points  |  Recent Science Book Reviews