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The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less

The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less [Kindle Edition]

Barry Schwartz
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)

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Product Description


"Schwartz lays out a convincing argument.... [He] is a crisp, engaging writer with an excellent sense of pace."--Austin American-Statesman


"Schwartz offers helpful suggestions of how we can manage our world of overwhelming choices."--St. Petersburg Times

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 843 KB
  • Print Length: 300 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0060005688
  • Publisher: HarperCollins e-books (13 Oct 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #107,440 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
89 of 91 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars great book that will fall on deaf ears 11 July 2004
By tomsk77
this is a fantastic book that manages to articulate a set of ideas and experiences that I have had for a long time. namely that whilst choice has been fetishised in western societies, and become an unquestionable good, in fact a lot of the time choice a) it makes us uncomfortable (and unable to choose!) and b) doesn't deliver what we expect. this book predominantly deals with a).
one of the main points in the book is that different types of people deal with choice differently. satisficers will choose something that meets their needs, whilst maximizers will try and find the "best" option from all the choices available (it's not a simple split, some people approach different choices in different ways but anyway....). I definitely fit into the latter category. however what this book explains is that as a result maximizers will often be unhappy. this is so on the money. the amount of time I spend agonizing over some choices, and then questioning them afterwards to ensure that I didn't miss something.
there are some really interesting examples in here that I've been boring people to death with. for example the one about people buying jam. they are far more likely to buy one jam when there is only a choice of half a dozen than when there is a choice of twenty or more. it seems we get paralysed by too much choice. similraly there is a great story about people's responses to a hypothetical choice between using different vaccines - one guaranteed to cure one third (but only one third) of those it's used on, and an experimental one that will cure everyone if it works but there's only a one in three chance it will work. how you phrase the proposition has a big impact on how people respond.
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44 of 47 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars a useful book, in spite of its flaws 11 Mar 2007
By Nelkin
I like an author who can keep a good, coherent argument going through an entire book, and to give Barry Schwartz credit I certainly think he does that here. It didn't hurt that I was ready to agree with him before I even started reading -- my own dislike of consumerism disposed me favourably towards his pro-simplicity argument straight away -- but, anyhow, I think it's fair to say that he makes his case thoroughly and backs it up with wide-ranging and relevant evidence.

I have a couple of caveats, some quite important. First, when I say the argument is made thoroughly, that doesn't mean that I think the book necessarily needs to be over 200 pages long. In fact, it really does begin to drag after about halfway through. The examples become overwhelmingly repetitive -- more and more of the same -- and the prose becomes laboured, as though the author knows in his heart he has said all he needs to say. His recommendations at the end of the book, for coping with excessive choice, have a desultory air about them, and I don't think Schwartz really has any suggestions that haven't been made more clearly and insightfully by others.

I can't help feeling that he could have made his points in about half the number of pages, maybe less. That would have been a good example to set, for someone so keen to extol the virtues of economy and simplification. But I guess that would have made his publisher's job of shifting the book somewhat less simple -- less than two hundred pages and people feel they're not getting their money's worth, right?

In spite of all that I nearly gave this book four stars, but I've knocked off another point for Schwartz's spectacularly ignorant dismissal of Voluntary Simplicity at the end of his introduction.
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53 of 57 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Too Many Choices 10 Mar 2004
By takingadayoff TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
I remember reading about ten or twelve years ago of Russian immigrants to the West who were overwhelmed by the choices in the average supermarket. Accustomed to a choice of cereal or no cereal, they became paralyzed when confronted with flakes, puffs, pops, sugared or not, oat, wheat, corn, rice, hot or cold, and on and on. Now, according to Barry Schwartz, we are all overwhelmed by too many choices.
No one is immune, he says. Even if someone doesn't care about clothes or restaurants, he might care very much about TV channels or books. And these are just the relatively unimportant kinds of choices. Which cookie or pair of jeans we choose doesn't really matter very much. Which health care plan or which university we choose matters quite a lot. How do different people deal with making decisions?
Schwartz analyzes from every angle how people make choices. He divides people into two groups, Maximizers and Satisficers, to describe how some people try to make the best possible choice out of an increasing number of options, and others just settle for the first choice that meets their standards. (I think he should have held out for a better choice of word than "satisficer.")
I was a bit disappointed that Schwartz dismissed the voluntary simplicity movement so quickly. They have covered this ground and found practical ways of dealing with an overabundance of choice. Instead of exploring their findings, Schwartz picked up a copy of Real Simple magazine, and found it was all about advertising. If he had picked up a copy of The Overspent American by Juliet Schor or Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin instead, he might have found some genuine discussion of simple living rather than Madison Avenue's exploitation of it.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Great Point. Rubbish Book.
Barry Schwartz makes a great point. He argues that having more choices, indeed having more freedom, is not always all it's cracked up to be. Read more
Published 3 months ago by elephvant
2.0 out of 5 stars Unoriginal Homilies
So far the book has consisted mainly of regurgitated ideas with little by way of evidence to support their usefulness. I doubt if I shall read very much more of it...
Published 5 months ago by jbroad
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book to make you think...
Great book to make you think more, of choices you've made and why—and sometimes, why you didn't. Opposing the opinions of 1star ratings, I didn't stay with impression that author... Read more
Published 14 months ago by happy customer
4.0 out of 5 stars For me, it was very useful and helpful - and refreshing..!
I'm definitely a maximizer; reading this book was very refreshing for me! I could relate to the experiences Barry explained, I thought my 'problems' were just specific to me, but... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Mr. R. O'regan
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but somewhat repetitive
The paradox of choice is certainly a book which is worth reading. However, before I was even halfway through it, I honestly started to get somewhat bored with it since it is in... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Jimmi Aa
4.0 out of 5 stars Gamechanger - if you want it to be
The "good enough" school of thought is one I used as a branding copywriter many years ago. Because I was changing good money I always wanted to write as best as I could,... Read more
Published 20 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars I choose this one!
Fascinating look at purchasing habits. Well written in an understandable, accesable style, and extremely useful from a small retail perspective
Published 22 months ago by Owen Phillips 2
1.0 out of 5 stars you too have a choice - don't buy this dross
Over 200 pages to make a single point - too much choice confuses us - well whoopee. So you have a choice to save your time and money by not bothering to read this - you will learn... Read more
Published on 1 Jun 2012 by S. Rye
3.0 out of 5 stars I kinda wish I'd CHOSEN something else...
I had such high hopes for this book. I was expecting it to focus largely on consumer culture, and to have some profound 'light bulb' moments that would really make me stop and... Read more
Published on 25 Nov 2011 by Miss E. Potten
4.0 out of 5 stars How you shop and buy
Interesting to marketeers and psychologist alike.

This book contains lots of little stories that bring psychological experiments to life. Read more
Published on 23 Oct 2011 by Pete Burden
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