The Paradox of Choice: Barry Schwartz

The Paradox of Choice: Barry Schwartz

The Official dogma of western society:

to maximize the welfare of citizens then maximize individual freedom

The way to maximize freedom is to maximize choice.

This is deeply embedded in our society. The result of this is we are overburdened with the need to decide what to do and that there is a shift of burden in decision making from those who know to who don’t know.

Negative effects:

1. More options produce paralysis as people get confused and don’t know what to choose.

2. We are less satisfied even if we make a choice because:

a. we imagine that the choice that we have made is not the best choice we could have made and that reduces our satisfaction of the choice we made.

b. We are nagged by the idea of opportunity cost. That is the idea that while we are doing something we are thinking about all the other things we are not doing.

c. Escalation of expectations, because of all the options available we expect that at least one option should be ‘the best’ or better that what you have got.

d. Self-Blame: When there is lot of choice responsibility is your for making a failure.

What enables choice?

Material affluence

and Society is heavily skewed between the haves and the have nots.

Too much choice makes us miserable. Too little choice makes us miserable

Thus income redistribution may actually increase societies welfare.


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