The Paradox of Choice

Title: The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less
Author: Barry Schwartz
Genre: Factual
Readability: A fast and easy read

The subtitle of this book – ‘why more is less’ – pretty much sums up the basic point of the book: that we currently have too many options available to us, and that we would be better off if we had fewer things to choose from. This is applied to everything from consumer goods to educational choices. The book parades the value of freedom from choice rather than freedom of choice.

The main idea is that having excessively many options force us to spend more time searching for information and deliberating about the choices that face us. And to top it off, we do not feel happier with our choices. Schwartz claims that the so-called satisficers – people that settle for ‘good enough’ – are generally happier than the maximisers, who always try to get the very best of everything.

Like many American books of this type, The Paradox of Choice is slightly longer than it should be; it spends quite a lot of time repeating its basic point across different fields. There are some interesting anecdotes and facts in it, though, especially on how people make decisions. Check out this example of how memory works, taken from the book.

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