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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My review of The Paradox of Choice
I enjoyed reading this book very much. Having rules and constraints in society is a good thing and should be embraced. This is an important idea of this book. The Paradox of Choice explains how people arrive at the decisions they do. This book also talks about the negative aspects of making decisions in a world with so many choices. Finally, this book offers...
Published on Jan. 10 2004 by Robert G Yokoyama

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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great book if you haven't taken Psych 101
I was expecting alot more from this book than it provided. That isn't bad, but in an effort to set expectations (which this book advocates) I wanted to write a review to let people know what it does and doesn't do.
The Paradox of Choice is a great introductory read if you have never heard of things like Opportunity Costs, Anchoring, Escalation of Commitment, etc. It...
Published on June 2 2004 by Gina Bianchini


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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great book if you haven't taken Psych 101, June 2 2004
By 
Gina Bianchini "Gina" (San Francisco, CA United States) - See all my reviews
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I was expecting alot more from this book than it provided. That isn't bad, but in an effort to set expectations (which this book advocates) I wanted to write a review to let people know what it does and doesn't do.
The Paradox of Choice is a great introductory read if you have never heard of things like Opportunity Costs, Anchoring, Escalation of Commitment, etc. It does a great job of outlining various psychology realities around why choice actually creates more anxiety and depression. If you want to learn about these topics in simple, plain English, this is your book.
If you know about these topics already, have taken Psych 101 somewhere, and want to understand best practices of companies and individuals managing choice, this is going to be a disappointment. Of 11 chapters, only 1 was dedicated to how to effectively manage the barrage of choices one is faced with everyday in this society. And that chapter was pretty skimpy on specifics.
What I found lacking in this book were specific examples of how individuals effectively handle choice in a positive, proactive way. For example, what is the decision process of a satisficer (a term used in the book) for going to college or buying a car?
Furthermore, I would have liked to have seen this author talk about ways we as consumers and businesspeople can influence companies to begin to edit down the number of brands, products, and therefore choices we have to make on a regular basis.
Granted, holding this book to such a high standard might just be my desire to see this topic delved into further given the importance of it to our satisfaction with our everyday lives, but I still was expecting more. At least from a hardcover.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My review of The Paradox of Choice, Jan. 10 2004
By 
Robert G Yokoyama (Mililani, Hawaii) - See all my reviews
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I enjoyed reading this book very much. Having rules and constraints in society is a good thing and should be embraced. This is an important idea of this book. The Paradox of Choice explains how people arrive at the decisions they do. This book also talks about the negative aspects of making decisions in a world with so many choices. Finally, this book offers suggestions on how to make better choices and reduce stress.

Barry Schwartz makes many good points about decision making. One of them is that because of the growing number of choices we are presented with, we don't always have the time to look at all the information out there to make the best choice. Another interesting point is that people expect certain decisions to be made for them. In the health care field for example, we expect the doctor to tell what kind of treatment we need.
I learned from reading this book that we should all strive to be satisficers rather maximizers. A satisficer is a person who chooses a product or service that is good enough. A maximizer is a person who is always trying to get the best product. A satisficer is usually happy with their choice. In contrast, a maximizer isn't happy and often regrets what they bought.
We should also try to stick our choices and not change our minds. This is another way to reduce anixety I learned in the book. This is very hard to do consistently, but I thought this was a good piece of advice. I also enjoyed the idea of being a chooser and not a picker. Choosers have time to change their goals whereas pickers do not. Choosers take their time making a decision considering all their options unlike pickers who do not.
The Paradox of Choice is an excellent book with a lot of interesting information about the habits people have in making decisions. It also has very useful tips on how to reduce anixety in your life.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Read this and see where consumerism is going, Feb. 8 2014
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This review is from: The Paradox Of Choice: Why More Is Less (Paperback)
Purchased this as I was interested in what the author was trying to get across in a TV interview. Really makes you think about all the choices in life we have to make, and do we really need them??
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Eeny, Meeny, Miney, Mo, Feb. 27 2004
I remember reading about ten or twelve years ago of Russian immigrants to America who were overwhelmed by the choices in the average supermarket. Accustomed to a choice of cereal or no cereal, they became paralyzed when confronted with flakes, puffs, pops, sugared or not, oat, wheat, corn, rice, hot or cold, and on and on. Now, according to Barry Schwartz, we are all overwhelmed by too many choices.
No one is immune, he says. Even if someone doesn't care about clothes or restaurants, he might care very much about TV channels or books. And these are just the relatively unimportant kinds of choices. Which cookie or pair of jeans we choose doesn't really matter very much. Which health care plan or which university we choose matters quite a lot. How do different people deal with making decisions?
Schwartz analyzes from every angle how people make choices. He divides people into two groups, Maximizers and Satisficers, to describe how some people try to make the best possible choice out of an increasing number of options, and others just settle for the first choice that meets their standards. (I think he should have held out for a better choice of word than "satisficer.")
I was a bit disappointed that Schwartz dismissed the voluntary simplicity movement so quickly. They have covered this ground and found practical ways of dealing with an overabundance of choice. Instead of exploring their findings, Schwartz picked up a copy of Real Simple magazine, and found it was all about advertising. If he had picked up a copy of The Overspent American by Juliet Schor or Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin instead, he might have found some genuine discussion of simple living rather than Madison Avenue's exploitation of it.
I enjoyed the first part of The Paradox of Choice, about how we choose, but the second half, about regret and depression, seemed to drag. Fortunately, I was able to choose to skim the slow bits and move right to the more interesting conclusion, about how to become more satisfied (or "satisficed") through better decision-making.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Who decides what you buy? or think?, Feb. 20 2004
By 
Theodore A. Rushton (PHOENIX, Arizona United States) - See all my reviews
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Faced with too many choices, Schwartz has stumbled in his erudite and well-reasoned attempts to illustrate the dilemmas of too many choices too often for too many people in a too affluent society.
"As the number of choices we face increases, freedom of choice eventually becomes a tyranny of choice," Schwartz intones one page from the end of his book. Maybe that's why America, the land of choice, has always limited itself to two major political parties rather than a profusion of ideologies and opinions.
If choice is good in the marketplace, surely it is good for politics. Schwartz says he "found 85 different varieties and brands of crackers." Didn't it occurred to him that if America has cracker democracy, it should also have 85 different varieties and brands of political parties? If it's good for the marketplace, why not for politics?
The key, which he passes over briefly, is found in his third chapter when he says cigarette manufacturers in the 1930s "discovered that smokers who taste-tested various cigarette brands without knowing which was which couldn't tell them apart." The result, he says, was "the practice of selling a product by associating it with a glamorous lifestyle."
It's the foundation of modern marketplace. People who are satisfied with their lives don't spend their time worrying about whether they have the most elegant, tasty, healthy or socially responsible cracker; instead, they buy and use the cracker that meets their needs. Is this possible? Well, years ago I worked with a former executive from Kraft foods who once explained that Kraft factories produced 90 percent of the macaroni and cheese sold in America. Some was sold under the Kraft name; much was sold as private brands. Yet advertising tells people there are differences. Gasoline? It's all the same, according to people who run refineries; however, look at the advertising for gasoline.
If you look at the hands producing vehicles, electronics, clothing and dozens of other consumer products, you realize much of the content comes from people who are paid pennies per hour to produce products according to ISO 9000 standards. The glamorous lifestyle choices that are so confusing comes from advertising.
Want an IBM notebook? Cisco router? Sun workstation? Hewlett-Packard printer? All are manufactured by Solectron, the largest contract manufacturer in the world. You can still buy a new GE and RCA television, though GE hasn't made a TV since 1987 and RCA doesn't exist as a company; both are brand names for Thomson, the French electronics company. In other words, you're buying the product of one manufacturer.
The key element is not the advertising glitter, nor the brand name of the product, it is whether a product meets your needs. I've driven a Jaguar, a truly magnificent car; but, my needs are best satisfied by a 1984 Volvo station wagon. In other words, my Volvo meets my needs -- my personal needs are not what advertisers say will make me happy or a car advertisers claim will raise the envy level of my neighbors.
Schwartz offers a valuable introduction to the paradoxes of choice as muddled by advertising, his observations are relevant and telling but his conclusions are hollow. He's as much a prisoner of the "glamorous lifestyle" image as anyone. It's a great book to read if you keep this in mind; think of him in terms of providing an ISO 9001:2000 product and decide whether it meets your needs.
Perhaps, though, I'm wrong in my assessment; maybe Schwartz is right. If you value intellectual integrity, read it and decide whether his ideas satisfy your experience. Bottom line? Read, then think for yourself and be satisfied with having added to your own knowledge and intelligence. Don't worry about what anyone else tells you to think.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Illuminating, Valuable but Repetitive, July 18 2010
By 
J. A. Broad "Julie Broad (http://www.revnyou.... (Canada) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Paradox Of Choice: Why More Is Less (Paperback)
This book is full of golden nuggets of thought. If you're fascinated with society, the human mind and happiness then you will devour this book and love every minute of it. He makes many recommendations for those who struggle with decisions and presents many thoughtful observations about the world we live in and the decisions we make. Throughout the book you'll find clear explanations of why some people find it easier to make decisions and while others painfully never decide or when they finally decide they are unhappy with the choice they made. You'll also gain a greater understanding of what sort of imperfect information can cause you to make a decision and how to better protect yourself from making such biased decisions.

And if you're someone that always struggles to make a decision and be happy with your choice you'll learn some ways to handle these situations if you happen to be one of the unhappy ones.

If you're more like me and just want the point and want the real world applications of his insights and observations you can get the overall view of his best advice and the highlights of the book in the last chapter. It's all neatly summarized right there.

I enjoyed the book, although I did find it a bit repetitive. But to make it an excellent read for me I would have liked to have had a bit more real world business applications added to it. As a business person how do we handle the challenge that people demand choices and options but get paralyzed by too many? Is there a way to turn a maximizer into someone that buys and is happy with their choice?

Some of these answers were alluded to but I think for it to be a valuable marketing and business read it needs to be a little clearer as to how this can translate into business versus how we can make ourselves happier with our choices.

Overall - a very interesting and useful read!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Choose This Book!, June 16 2004
By 
Richard Nelson (Chicago, IL) - See all my reviews
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The counterintuitive title of this book makes sense by page two, which is only the first of many wonders Schwartz makes happen over the course of this deceptively thin and breezy tome. Paradox explains why we feel like we have less time even as technology continues to promise to make life easier. In a nutshell, it's because we have too many choices and invest great amounts of time and mental capital in making decisions that were far simpler or simply didn't exist in the past. Schwartz start with examples like buying jeans--slim fit? baggy fit? classic fit? relaxed fit? tapered leg? button fly? zip fly?--or choosing phone service--AT&T? MCI? countless baby Bells? myriad cellular providers?--but quickly demonstrates that our choices in every area of life, including where to live, who (or whether) to marry, what to do for a living, and much more have expanded to a degree that we not only spend more time contemplating our choices, but experience far more regret afterward--or sometimes, he argues, choose not to choose at all because thinking about all the choices we must forego in order to choose just one paralyzes us--or makes the option we like the best seem less appealing.
Schwartz also notes that the increased array of choices combines with the human imagination in dangerous ways that make us sadder. Life gives us choices with fixed qualities--a good job with potential in a city far from home or a decent job with little potential that's close to home--but we compose our own options by assembling aspects of the real choices into fictional options that we then compare with reality. What a surprise that, as we learn of more and more choices, reality falls further and further short! I can't have it all: live close enough to family and retain the freedom to use distance as an excuse to avoid obligations, live in Minneapolis and also in a house with Brad, work with people I loved working with and also return to Illinois. Yet in times of distress, I (and all of us, Schwartz says) tend to compare the situation that troubles me not with a real alternative but with a fantasy constructed from several conflicting components. This is not a useful way to deal with whatever it is that troubles me, or any of us.
Fortunately, Schwartz closes the book by offering useful suggestions for understanding the problems unlimited choices pose in our society and dealing with them in our own lives. His book isn't perfect--it gets a bit redundant at times--but it's a fascinating take on a topic that plays a bigger role in modern life than many of us realize.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Feel better about your decisions..., June 9 2004
By A Customer
Schwartz takes an interesting perspective on the decision sciences, exploring not how we could make decisions better, but instead how we can feel better about the decisions we do make.
He explains that we live in a world with overwhelming choice, where every activity from buying a box of cereal to choosing our ideal job offers us an almost unlimited set of options. But although these increased choices often make us better off objectively, they don't necessarily make us feel any better. Instead, we get anxious while making the decision and then feel regret once it's made, wondering if we made the "right" choice. Schwartz helps us understand the psychological underpinnings of our anxieties regarding choice, and then offers some simple but useful suggestions on how we can feel better in the world we live in.
I really enjoyed this book...and as a "maximizer" I found it very helpful. It's a quick read, so if you're at all intrigued by the title then I'd definitely buy it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and helpful, June 3 2004
By 
Renaaah "Renaaah" (Bronxville, New York) - See all my reviews
I am deeply thankful to live at a time, in a country, where I enjoy unprecedented freedoms; I would never want someone else to restrict my choices. And I'm not sure that the author and I agree on this point.
However, "The Paradox of Choice" has certainly helped convince me that I could benefit from somewhat limiting my own options in certain areas, as I see fit. What I liked best about this book is the fact that its last chapter is devoted to giving readers practical, customizeable ways to control the ways in which choice can sometimes be paralyzing.
Worth skimming, at least.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating read!, May 20 2004
By 
Amanda Miller (San Francisco, CA) - See all my reviews
If there was a class on the sociology of shopping, this would be a required book. A fascinating read on the challenges fraught during a shopping experience and the evolution of choice during the 21st century. A highly enjoyable read!
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The Paradox Of Choice: Why More Is Less
The Paradox Of Choice: Why More Is Less by Barry Schwartz (Paperback - Jan. 6 2005)
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