The Paradox of Choice

Right now you could read this review or access the entire sum of human knowledge and entertainment in a few clicks of your finger. That in a nutshell is The Paradox of Choice, by Barry Schwartz.

Our ability to weigh the competing benefits of different choices served us well in evolutionary terms when choices were relatively few and making the right decision was crucial to survival. But our instincts now betray us when choices are virtually infinite for the most trivial of decisions.

Schwartz explains with copious scientific studies — maybe too many studies? — why the overabundance of choices overwhelm us and make us miserable.

Even though this book was written in 2004, it feels more relevant than ever. But the fact that it’s 12 years old is also a reminder that information overload isn’t new — and it’s not going away.

The key really comes in the final chapter when Schwartz summarizes what we can do to limit our choices so when we DO faces choices, it feels more like freedom and less like tyranny.

If I could change one thing about this book, it would be to include more narrative. At times, this book felt like a series of studies stitches together. More focus on people’s real-world examples could have helped stitch it together.

But that’s a small quibble. Beggars can’t be choosers.

Educator. Podcast addict. Wrote a book about creativity:

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