Everyday decisions have become increasingly complex due to the overwhelming abundance of choice with which we are presented. A trip to a typical supermarket reveals enormous choices such as 85 different crackers, 285 types of cookies, 230 varieties of canned soup, 80 different pain relievers, and 360 kinds of shampoo. Does this improve the quality of our lives?
American culture was founded on freedom of choice. A free market economy means that more options should result in better satisfaction for customers and improved products and services. But if the number and variety of choices means more time and effort involved in making even the most basic decisions on how to live and work, then we are creating more problems than we are solving.
In the book The Paradox of Choice (2004), Barry Schwartz says it well:
Freedom of choice is essential to self-respect, public participation, mobility, and nourishment, but not all choice enhances freedom. Increased choice among goods and services may contribute little or nothing to the kind of freedom that counts. Indeed, it may impair freedom by taking time and energy we’d be better off devoting to other matters.
Excessive choice brings choice overload.
When people have no choice, life is unbearable. As the number of choices
increase, there is a positive and powerful increase in autonomy, control, and
liberation. But as the number of choices keeps growing, there is an increase in stress, decision-making dilemmas, anxiety, fears, disappointments, and even clinical depression.
We make the most of our freedoms by learning to make good choices about the things that matter while unburdening ourselves from too much concern about the things that don’t.
The full article is available in two parts for purchase, to be used in your
The full article contains the following concepts:
Freedom of Choice Is not just an American Problem
Product AND Lifestyle Choices Too
Too Much Freedom Brings Less Freedom
Are More Choices Really Good for Business?
The Downside of Choice
The Way Out
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