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Maximize choice. According to the official dogma of all Western industrial societies, this is the way to maximize human welfare.
Social psychologist Barry Schwartz summarizes it this way in his book “The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less”: “If we are interested in maximizing the welfare of our citizens, the way to do that is to maximize individual freedom. The way to maximize freedom is to maximize choice. The more choice people have, the more freedom they have. And the more freedom they have, the more welfare they have.”
America - Choice - Aspect - Life - Trivial
In America, choice is ubiquitous. It pervades every aspect of life, from the trivial to the eternal. Shopping. Housing. Religion. The number of choices in each of these areas has increased exponentially over the last 30 years, yet clinical depression and suicide have also increased exponentially over that same period.
Why? If we have more choices than we have ever had in every aspect of life, why are we less satisfied and more depressed than previous generations?
Schwartz - Choice - Answer - Problem - Society
According to Schwartz, we mistakenly think that choice is an unmitigated good, thus the answer to every problem in modern society has become “more choices.” If having a choice of five salad dressings is good, then having a choice of 175 salad dressings must be better. Right?
Wrong. Schwartz began studying the issue of the psychological consequences of choice after he went to buy a new pair of jeans for the first time in years. When he arrived, the salesperson began peppering him with questions about the style and fit he was seeking: Slim fit, easy fit, or relaxed fit? Zipper or button fly? Acid-washed or stone-washed? Boot-cut or tapered? Distressed or undistressed? The list went on and on.
Schwartz - Number - Choices - Hour - Jeans
Schwartz was immediately overwhelmed with the number of choices. He spent the next hour trying on jeans. Ultimately, Schwartz left...
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