Skip to Navigation

When I was a kid crisps came in one variety, ready-salted. We were a comfortable middle-class family so we had the luxury of two pairs of shoes – one for home and one for school, and when we left school we got a job (and probably kept it).

Now we have choice. Thirty-six varieties of crisp and counting, shoes are a whole fashion industry in themselves, and career planning has spawned an industry!
An array of choice is arresting, it gets attention, but it also stymies our ability to act. When, in tests, shoppers were given a discount voucher to buy jam, they used it 10 times more often when they had just six varieties, than when they had 24 to choose from.

As options multiply, for shoppers anyway, it seems that the effort needed to make a choice outweighs the benefits of a wide range of options.
“At this point, choice no longer liberates, but debilitates” says psychologist and author Barry Schwartz, “It might even be said to tyrannise.” The fact that some choice is good doesn’t automatically mean that more choice is better.

Schwartz goes on to say that we’d all be better off if we:

  • Embrace voluntary limits to our freedom of choice, rather than rebelling against them
  • Aim for what is ‘good enough’, rather than seeking the best
  • Lower our expectations about the results of decisions
  • Ensure that our decisions are non-reversible
  • Pay less attention to what others around us are doing.

So do we think we have choice because it is what we want, or do we want choice because we are told we can have it? Conventional wisdom, once again, is open to challenge.

See also

Schwartz, B., (2010), The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less, Harper, London.

What do you think? Share your thoughts...

Latest from the blog

The Thursday Webinar – Depression and what to do about It

webinar, optimism, depression

When I talk about depression in a dismissive or disrespectful tone, it is because we need to dismiss the ideas that are getting in the way of helping people who suffer from depression.

Continue reading

We’ve been Talking About It Ever Since the Garden of Eden

Tend your garden

Our language is littered with gardening metaphors. I suppose that’s because we have been in contact with the earth throughout human history and that connection has shaped many of our expressions.

It has also given us an innate understanding of how to help things grow and flourish in all areas of our lives, and the things that need weeding out if our relationships are to continue to provide nourishment and beauty year after year.

Continue reading
FREE DOWNLOAD - Get it now.

How to be more Resilient

Get my super-helpful guide '9 Steps to Resilience' absolutely FREE, when you subscribe to my newsletter.

Understand the steps to resilience and you can develop the ability to cope with problems and setbacks with less stress and more confidence.
close-link
%d bloggers like this: