Friday, February 24, 2006

The Paradox of Choice

The book "Pardox of Choice" by Barry Schwarz is starting to get some attention in the media. The thesis of the book is that in this day and age, when we are confronted with so many options, the end result of having so many choices is that we are actually unhappier for them. Having so many choices, he argues, 1) makes us stressed out in the process of making them and 2) Leves us with buyer's regret, as we are always anxious that we didn't make the right choice. Just one example: an ice cream parlor with over 200 flavors vs. one with 20. The one with 20 actually had higher customer satisfaction.

I think I was way ahead of this trend and actually beat it years ago. I have always been a bit compulsive in my decision making, particularly over the types of mundane decisions that usually require little thought. I have worked out a complicated formula for when to quit watching a basketball game based on the size of lead. I have developed a complicated formula (since jettisoned because it didn't work) for calling plays in football video games. I have a daily routine that I follow slavishly.

In restaurants, I have used different tactics over the years to defer decison making. I have ordered the exact same thing as others, I have ordered based on what is first on the menu, I have ordered based on what someone in line before me gets, I have ordered burgers and fries everywhere I go. My current strategy is to associate what menu item most closely approximates the overall ethos of the restaurant (a bit subjective, I know, but it works pretty well for me).

I used to think all of this was somewhat unhealthy, but I am now becoming more at peace with myself. By insisting on surrendering to fate and allowing my self-determination to be surrendered to randomness, I am cutting off the paradox of choice before it can insidiously wrap its arms around me. The only drawback is that I felt weird for taking such an approach to life. Now I think I am normal and everyone else is weird for thinking that choice creates happiness.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

granted, the old system didn't work at all, but i wouldn't exactly say the new one is producing any w's anytime soon

8:41 PM  
Blogger Azor said...

I now have a chance of winning, something that could not be said before.

1:02 PM  
Blogger kevin said...

im with ya on this one. i think choice was created for and by women. they seem to have more options in a lot of situations.

11:37 AM  
Blogger kevin said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:37 AM  

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