engineering a better experience
Friday, June 01, 2012 (Updated )

Review: Paradox of Choice

by The Metaist

title

(Image: Amazon)

Summary

The Paradox of Choice consists of our:

  • preference for many (rather than few) options when making a decision,
  • larger likelyhood of dissatisfaction when choosing from a large set of options (rather than a small set).

In Barry Schwartz's Paradox of Choice, he argues that our desire to expand our available alternatives is actually making us less satisfied with whatever we end up choosing.

Choice

The choice is your and your alone.
(Photo: Tori Cat at Flickr)

 

Commentary

Schwartz sees two major strategies for making a choice:

  • maximizer - tries to make best possible choice
  • satisficer - tries to find first suitable choice

The difference is that a satisficer is operating with a specific set of criteria in mind. Once the criteria are met, the search is over. Meanwhile, the maximizer continues to search for the best deal and can never really be sure that there isn't a better deal out there. As a result, the maximizer suffers from the perception that any defect in his choice might have been overcome by some hypothetical other option.

It's almost as if for maximizers "it's not in the last place you look."

See Also