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Paperback The Paradox of Choice : Why More Is Less Book

ISBN: 0060005696

ISBN13: 9780060005696

The Paradox of Choice : Why More Is Less

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Book Overview

In the spirit of Alvin Toffler s Future Shock, a social critique of our obsession with choice, and how it contributes to anxiety, dissatisfaction and regret. This paperback includes a new P.S. section with author interviews, insights, features, suggested readings, and more.Whether we re buying a pair of jeans, ordering a cup of coffee, selecting a long-distance carrier, applying to college, choosing a doctor, or setting up a 401(k), everyday decisions--both...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Good and bad choices in financial trading

Having a choice in life is a good thing; a person without choices is often miserable. As the number of choices grows, our happiness grows with them, but then it begins to decline. Having too many choices creates stress. Schwartz describes his visit to a local supermarket: "...next to the crackers were 285 varieties of cookies. Among chocolate chip cookies there were 21 options. ... Across the isle were juices - 13 `sports drinks,' 65 `box drinks' for kids, 85 other flavors and brands of juices, and 75 iced teas and adult drinks. I could get these tea drinks sweetened (sugar or artificial sweetener), lemoned, and flavored. ... I found 61 varieties of suntan oil and sunblock, and 80 different pain relievers - aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen; 350 milligrams or 500 milligrams; caplets, capsules, and tablets; coated or uncoated. There were 40 options for toothpaste, 150 lipsticks, 75 eyeliners, and 90 colors of nail polish from one brand alone." Those wide choices may seem appealing, but Schwartz brings our attention to what he calls `the darker side of freedom' - the stress of choice. This paradox is the most pronounced in the financial markets. Even though his book is about the paradox of choice in general, I read it with an eye towards the financial markets, my own trading, and what I see in other traders. Shall we trade stocks, futures, or options? If stocks, shall we trade the more seasoned issues on the NYSE or look for riskier high-growth candidates on the NASDAQ? Should we track agricultural, tropical, or financial futures? And what about the forex? Should we buy or write options, or look into more complex strategies, such as spreads? And worst of all - what if another market makes a spectacular move while our attention is focused elsewhere? No wonder the majority of traders feel so stressed. Schwartz says "Choosing almost always involves giving up something else of value. ... The overload of choice contributes to dissatisfaction." "Losses hurt more than gains satisfy. ... The cost of any option involves passing up the opportunities that a different option would have afforded. ... Conflict induces people to avoid decisions. ...Emotional unpleasantness makes for bad decisions. ... The desire to avoid regret leads to inaction inertia. ... An overload of choice contributes to dissatisfaction." Every trader who kicked himself after a profitable trade for having `left more money on the table' will chuckle at a cartoon of a kid in a t-shirt that says "Brown ... but my first choice was Yale." Schwartz shows how people are divided into `maximizers' who always strive for the best and `satisficers' those who settle for some reasonable level of success. "Almost everyone who scores high on maximization scale also scores high on regret." You can decide to be a maximizer in a very small number of situations that truly matter to you and be a more mellow satisficer in the rest of your life. "We would be better off seeking what w

Choose This Book!

The counterintuitive title of this book makes sense by page two, which is only the first of many wonders Schwartz makes happen over the course of this deceptively thin and breezy tome. Paradox explains why we feel like we have less time even as technology continues to promise to make life easier. In a nutshell, it's because we have too many choices and invest great amounts of time and mental capital in making decisions that were far simpler or simply didn't exist in the past. Schwartz start with examples like buying jeans--slim fit? baggy fit? classic fit? relaxed fit? tapered leg? button fly? zip fly?--or choosing phone service--AT & T? MCI? countless baby Bells? myriad cellular providers?--but quickly demonstrates that our choices in every area of life, including where to live, who (or whether) to marry, what to do for a living, and much more have expanded to a degree that we not only spend more time contemplating our choices, but experience far more regret afterward--or sometimes, he argues, choose not to choose at all because thinking about all the choices we must forego in order to choose just one paralyzes us--or makes the option we like the best seem less appealing.Schwartz also notes that the increased array of choices combines with the human imagination in dangerous ways that make us sadder. Life gives us choices with fixed qualities--a good job with potential in a city far from home or a decent job with little potential that's close to home--but we compose our own options by assembling aspects of the real choices into fictional options that we then compare with reality. What a surprise that, as we learn of more and more choices, reality falls further and further short! I can't have it all: live close enough to family and retain the freedom to use distance as an excuse to avoid obligations, live in Minneapolis and also in a house with Brad, work with people I loved working with and also return to Illinois. Yet in times of distress, I (and all of us, Schwartz says) tend to compare the situation that troubles me not with a real alternative but with a fantasy constructed from several conflicting components. This is not a useful way to deal with whatever it is that troubles me, or any of us.Fortunately, Schwartz closes the book by offering useful suggestions for understanding the problems unlimited choices pose in our society and dealing with them in our own lives. His book isn't perfect--it gets a bit redundant at times--but it's a fascinating take on a topic that plays a bigger role in modern life than many of us realize.

If choices are making you crazy read this book

Dr. Schwartz has exposed the difference between the best and good enough. He tells us that "maximizers" are people who want the absolute best, so they have to examine every choice or they fear they are not getting the best. However, looking at all the choices is usually frustrating and takes too much time. A "satisficer" is a person who looks at the options and chooses an option that is good enough. Maximizers may look at satisficers and say, "they're lazy or they're compromisers", but Dr. Schwartz points out that satisficers can have high standards. Dr. Schwart points out that the satisficer with high standards is internally motivated. The maximizer is more externally motivated because they are not looking at themselves, they're looking at others to see if what they have is better. Dr. Schwartz points out that social comparison brings unhappiness.

An engaging, lively, thoughtful book!

This is an eye-opening book -- it brings the clarity and insight into decision-making that The Tipping Point did for trends.I have seen Barry Schwartz interviewed on TV and listened to a radio interview regarding this book. These interviews focused a lot on decision-making in things like shopping, and how having more choices actually makes shopping harder and makes everyone dislike the process more.I think "Paradox of Choice" does bring insight into shopping, but its range is actually much wider than that. Schwartz discusses people making difficult decisions about jobs, families, where to live, whether to have children, how to spend recreational time, choosing colleges, etc. He talks about why making these decisions today is much harder than it was 30 years ago, and he offers many practical suggestions for how to address decision-making so that it creates less stress and more happiness. He even discusses how so much additional choice affects children, and how parents can help make childhood (particularly young childhood) less stressful.There are two other factors about this book that really made it great for me. The first is that Schwartz is a serious academic (although his writing isn't dense in any way at all) -- so he talks about studies that back up his assertions in every facet of his argument. He describes the studies in a very lively way, so that they really come to life, and we can understand how they relate to the issue at hand. And, importantly, we then realize that his discussion is really founded on the latest and most advanced research into decision-making. This is not some self-help guru with a half-baked idea spouting off.The other thing that I really like about this book is that it has given me a new way to think about our larger society, and what I like and don't like about it. Schwartz has written books before that are expressly critiques of some aspects of America today, and while this book is more focused on the individual, you can't help but come away feeling more thoughtful about the larger effect of these issues on our culture.I only wish that I had read this book before my latest career change -- it would have saved me a considerable amount of anguish. This is a great book!!

My review of The Paradox of Choice

I enjoyed reading this book very much. Having rules and constraints in society is a good thing and should be embraced. This is an important idea of this book. The Paradox of Choice explains how people arrive at the decisions they do. This book also talks about the negative aspects of making decisions in a world with so many choices. Finally, this book offers suggestions on how to make better choices and reduce stress. Barry Schwartz makes many good points about decision making. One of them is that because of the growing number of choices we are presented with, we don't always have the time to look at all the information out there to make the best choice. Another interesting point is that people expect certain decisions to be made for them. In the health care field for example, we expect the doctor to tell what kind of treatment we need. I learned from reading this book that we should all strive to be satisficers rather maximizers. A satisficer is a person who chooses a product or service that is good enough. A maximizer is a person who is always trying to get the best product. A satisficer is usually happy with their choice. In contrast, a maximizer isn't happy and often regrets what they bought. We should also try to stick our choices and not change our minds. This is another way to reduce anixety I learned in the book. This is very hard to do consistently, but I thought this was a good piece of advice. I also enjoyed the idea of being a chooser and not a picker. Choosers have time to change their goals whereas pickers do not. Choosers take their time making a decision considering all their options unlike pickers who do not. The Paradox of Choice is an excellent book with a lot of interesting information about the habits people have in making decisions. It also has very useful tips on how to reduce anixety in your life.
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