The Paradox of CHOICE
Brett Sparks • Sarah Elizabeth Myers • Jacob Morelli
Satisficer– A consumer who sets criteria for themselves, will most likely feel more satisfied after a purchase by not looking back at the "what could've been"
Opportunity Costs– "The loss of potential gain from other alternatives when one alternative is chosen"– Merriam-Webster, 2015
Choosing– Selecting an option based on the evaluation of your goals
Picking– Selecting an option while having too little time or too many options to accurately decide which option is the best
Is more really less?
Schwartz hypothesizes that the more choices a person is presented, the lower an individual’s happiness is. When given choices up to a certain point, people appreciate and are happy with these options. When people are given too many of choices, or what is known as choice overload, people find that there are negative impacts to their mood level and an increase in their regret for the opportunities that they missed.
Academic Book Review
There are four main parts in Schwartz discusses. These four parts cover the “what"s, “how"s, and “why"s when it comes to an overload of choices, and the paradoxically ironic freedom and yet lack of satisfaction we get when it comes to more choices. The fourth part, however, gives some nice tips on how to decrease such problems in our own lives that can arise from having simply too many choices.
The Paradox of Choice provides very interesting insights. Going into the book without expectation (with “expecting” coincidentally being one of the topics mentioned in the book) offers some great revelations and realizations among its readers, pulling them in further to learn more about how this "paradox of choice" works, and more importantly, what we can do to work against it in our own lives.
Although the assertions Schwartz makes are sometimes questionable when applying his reasoning to certain topics, he rarely seems to miss a beat when it comes to pinpointing many modern day problems, and how this overdosage of choices can be the cause of it. His analysis, which he’s been observing for years, is keen. His observations are clear when these problems are explained, and real-world examples that are often provided.
We found The Paradox of Choice to be a great read due to its compelling nature and the clear points Schwartz tries to make, and it really provides some insight on how much the options provided to us in today’s society affect us. There is knowledge of being self-aware of the society is trying to do conflicts with being able to combat that to live a fuller and happier life (and that definitely still applies today despite the book being a decade old). It is really a good book for anyone– everyone’s pressured by today’s many options, and anyone can learn and combat this themselves.
From 2004 to Today
Choosing what smartphone we want, the cases for it, who to hang out with, where to go, what kind of brand or design you want for clothing, what college is right for you, what college courses are right for you, who to date, who to be friends with all seems to hit us in the head within a matter of years, or even months. The objective worthwhileness of considering these options may vary, but the consequences apply nevertheless– and that will continue to be the case in America’s society for many years to come if nothing about us changes.
Schwartz believes there are two types of people: maximizers and satisficers. While maximizers look for the very best option, satisficers look for only what’s "good enough" (what meets their standards). Schwartz sees that the wise chooser has qualities of both in their selection process. The optimal method of looking for a great deal on a product or the best of your options is being aware of your position in society, where you can find hundreds of brands and styles of one particular product. You mustn't become disappointed or regretful if you don’t find the absolute perfect choice, these days it's practically impossible! Only certain, large purchases should take lots of thought and time. One shouldn't have to search ten stores for the best deal on bananas or t-shirt.
Charts for You People with Scientific Brains
In the top image, the X-axis represents how much something is actually worth, while the Y-axis represents how much it is worth to an individual.
As you can see, the more valuable something was (in the positive X range), the less satisfied said person was with the value of the object (in the positive Y range). On the other hand, people viewed something that shouldn't have been so terrible (negative X range) as very terrible, very quickly (negative Y range).
Too little choices, and people aren't satisfied. While choices increase, people are more satisfied with their freedom. But interestingly, the more these choices increase, the more unsatisfied they become yet again.
• The more choices one has, theoretically, the more they should be satisfied with their options. But in reality...
• The satisfaction decreases over time as more choices are introduced.. something that objectively is a better thing, but subjectively isn't so nice.
But what does Schwartz want us to do about choice, anyway?
After investigating all these negatives issues about having choices, Schwartz believes in the following solutions to help us minimize our choices and maximize our satisfaction. He suggests these provided steps:
- Choose When to Choose
- Be a Chooser, Not a Picker
- Satisfice More and Maximize Less
- Think About the Opportunity Costs of Opportunity Costs
- Make Your Decisions Nonreversible
- Practice an "Attitude of Gratitude"
- Regret Less
- Anticipate Adaptation
- Control Expectation
- Curtail Social Comparison
- Learn to Love Constraints
These steps address each of the issues discussed in The Paradox of Choice.
These simply, yet effective tricks can help minimize the choices presented to you, while staying happy and appreciating the freedom of customization in today's society.
In Benjamin Scheibehenne's article, “Can There Ever Be Too Many Options? A Meta-Analytic Review of Choice Overload," research was put into Schwartz’s thesis on "choice overload" and found conflicting evidence. Many studies have been done since the idea was presented to the public, and “[r]esearchers observing choice overload have commonly argued that negative effects do not always occur but rather depend on certain necessary preconditions.” This article asserts that “people with clear prior preferences prefer to choose from larger assortments and that, for those people, choice probability and satisfaction increased with the number of options to choose from, the opposite of choice overload.”
Are Schwartz's theories that far-fetched? See what more researches have to say about The Paradox of Choice.