The Paradox of Choice

UC Berkeley

Barry Schwartz is a Professor at the Haas School of Business, U.C. Berkeley and Emeritus Professor of Psychology at Swarthmore College. He has written several books about human behavior on topics like choice, wisdom, and motivation. He is also the recipient of the Class of 2016 Commencement Award.

Overview

The fact is, too much of a good thing has proven detrimental to our psychological and emotional well-being. Whether we’re buying a pair of jeans or setting up a 401(k), everyday decisions-from the mundane to the profound challenges of balancing career, family, and individual needs-have become increasingly complex due to the overwhelming abundance of choice with which we are presented. We assume that more choice means better options and greater satisfaction. But beware of choice overload: it can be paralyzing, make you question the decisions you make before you even make them, set you up for unrealistically high expectations, and make you blame yourself for any and all failures. In Professor Schwartz’ Paradox of Choice lecture, he will offer practical steps for how to limit choices to a manageable number, have the discipline to focus on the important ones and ignore the rest, and, ultimately derive greater satisfaction from the choices you do make.

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