Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Paradox of Choice

The idea that too many choices is detrimental to our happiness is not new. Barry Schwartz wrote about this idea in his book Paradox of Choice - Why Less is More.

His premise is that more choices lead to psychological stress because it isn't easy to (1) figure out what we want and (2) weigh the pros/cons of our various options. I've spent a lot of time recently furniture shopping and I've definitely experienced this stress! If the apartment were already furnished I would probably be a lot happier overall. I was also reminded of this book when reading an NYT article on decision fatigue:

The example of the parole board is quite surprising. Take 3 prisoners who committed the same crime and are similar in all other respects, one has a hearing at 9 AM, the other two much later in the day. The one with the early hearing is much more likely to get parole than the other two. The whole article is pretty interesting and certainly has some public policy implications.

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