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

Thermometers and Thermostats

Which one are you? A thermometer measures the ambient temperature of its milieu. It checks and reports. A thermostat on the other hand responds to its environment. It also checks, but then it makes little adjustments… it actually influences the environment. You might say that a thermometer is a rather passive receptor, and a thermostat […]

Continue reading

New SFBT book

At last it is finished. Solution Focused Therapy for the Helping Professions will be published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers on 15th December. Do you want to work more effectively with your clients? You can pre-order now and start the new year with new enthusiasm.

Continue reading

We Are Natural Problem-Solvers, That’s the Problem

We are problem-solving creatures. We love a challenge and without them we don’t grow and mature fully.

It would be great if an under-used intellect could set its owner crosswords and Sudoku to keep itself busy, but it doesn’t.

What happens next?

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: