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Too much choice?
Is it making us unhappy?


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39 replies to this topic

#1 Literary Lemur

Posted 23 January 2013 - 08:51 AM

Barry Schwatrz has written The Choice Paradox:  exploring the idea that choice has made us not freer but more paralyzed, not happier but more dissatisfied.
http://www.ted.com/talks/barry_schwartz_on..._of_choice.html

Does having extensive choice make us happier or do we look at say hair products and just get overwelmed and wander out of the shop having either bought nothing or wondering if we made the right choice (would another choice have been better?)

Does this go as far as affecting our satisfaction with our relationships - after all there is (at least in theory) a catalogue of people we can choose from on internet sites a big change from past times where we might have met limited people in our lifetime.

How does choice affect you?  Does choice equal freedom?  How does choice impact on your happiness?



#2 *LucyE*

Posted 23 January 2013 - 09:03 AM

I see some people paralyzed by choice.

I'm a fussy, discriminating kinda person and have no problems critiquing and eliminating options. I like choice so long as they are real choices not just crap option A and crap option B.

Does it equal freedom?  Depends on what the choices are.

Does it impact happiness?  I would say a tentative no, based on the thought that happiness is a state of mind and an unsustainable high. Trying to maintain that consistent high is often unachievable which seems to make people unhappy. One can choose to accept their crap option A, make the most of it and be happy with their choice.

#3 cinnabubble

Posted 23 January 2013 - 09:05 AM

Gen X used to suffer from "options paralysis" because, when you can do anything, choosing one thing means not choosing everything else. Many of us ended up doing nothing or doing interim somethings because choosing was too hard. I imagine choices are even harder these days.

#4 Guest_Sunnycat_*

Posted 23 January 2013 - 09:15 AM

Yes for some. I get overwhelmed by choice for some decisions and then can't move forward as can't make a decision. It's one of my biggest faults.

#5 Literary Lemur

Posted 23 January 2013 - 09:18 AM

QUOTE (cinnabubble @ 23/01/2013, 10:05 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Gen X used to suffer from "options paralysis" because, when you can do anything, choosing one thing means not choosing everything else. Many of us ended up doing nothing or doing interim somethings because choosing was too hard. I imagine choices are even harder these days.


I really relate to that state of mind and I think it has impacted on the direction my life has taken.

#6 Ange remplie

Posted 23 January 2013 - 09:21 AM

I think we need to bear in mind that choice comes with stacks of manipulation.  You're not just choosing a hair product, you're choosing a marketing spiel, and that plugs into all sorts of complex psychological phenomena.

#7 Guest_Sunnycat_*

Posted 23 January 2013 - 09:27 AM

QUOTE (amoral lemur @ 23/01/2013, 10:18 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I really relate to that state of mind and I think it has impacted on the direction my life has taken.


Yep! Can agree with this fully, I think back to so many wasted opportunities due to my lack of ability to make a choice and follow it through.

It's not choice at I find overwhelming but due to low self esteem (and most of my childhood being told I was useless and a loser) I never lt adequately confident to make a decision. Always worried about making the wrong choice and something bad happening and therefore did nothing.

#8 pinkcupcakes

Posted 23 January 2013 - 09:44 AM

QUOTE (Sunnycat @ 23/01/2013, 09:27 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Yep! Can agree with this fully, I think back to so many wasted opportunities due to my lack of ability to make a choice and follow it through.

It's not choice at I find overwhelming but due to low self esteem (and most of my childhood being told I was useless and a loser) I never lt adequately confident to make a decision. Always worried about making the wrong choice and something bad happening and therefore did nothing.

this is me too. even my driving instructor said that im a good driver but i hesitate too much, i need to make clear decisions. i just dont have the confidence to trust in my own decision.

#9 50ftqueenie

Posted 23 January 2013 - 09:52 AM

This reminds me of a conversation I had with a friend in our mid 20s.  We were lamenting that we still had no idea what we wanted to do career wise and she said "sometimes I wish I lived in the dark days of Communist China and someone would just come along and tell me..ok S, you are going to be a Kindergarten Teacher" (she was joking).  I certainly struggle with too much choice sometimes, but like anything I hope I learn from the struggle.

#10 MintyBiscuit

Posted 23 January 2013 - 10:01 AM

I think for a lot of people it can lead to more dissatisfaction. As PPs have said, it can lead to a lot of indecision and second guessing your decisions. I think as well there's a bit of grass is always greener, and of course it's impossible to know if the alternative would have been better or worse so if things aren't perfect it can be easy to blame that choice.

Personally, I don't have much of a problem with choice and making decisions. My general attitude in life is to have no regrets, and even with the crappy stuff that has happened I try to look at it as getting me to where I am in my life. When it comes to small decisions like products I just don't see them as having a huge impact on my life, and when it comes to big decisions I have a process I tend to work through to get to a decision, then stick to it.

#11 CallMeFeral

Posted 23 January 2013 - 10:33 AM

Yep I frequently get paralysed and overwhelmed by choice. But I also really fight and get angry when I don't have a choice in something (why is there no bpa free tuna packaging in Australia???), so I don't think that would make me any happier either!
TBH I think I still prefer more choice to less - it just takes some time to refine your filtering mechanisms.

#12 NunSoFeral

Posted 23 January 2013 - 11:56 AM

QUOTE (Ange Vert @ 23/01/2013, 09:21 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I think we need to bear in mind that choice comes with stacks of manipulation.  You're not just choosing a hair product, you're choosing a marketing spiel, and that plugs into all sorts of complex psychological phenomena.


The psychology underlying decision making is so interesting.
A really good book called (funnily enough) The Psychology of Judgement and Decision Making" by Scott Plous delves into the manipulations you refer to - both external and those internal manipulations we practise when justifying our decisions.
.
I remember a dear friend I had who grew up in South Africa  telling me about her complete breakdown in an Australian supermarket when faced with the great wall of cereal.
She had previously the choice between three.

Edited by gettheetoanunnery, 23 January 2013 - 11:58 AM.


#13 icekool

Posted 23 January 2013 - 12:24 PM

I blame it on technology. There are so many ways to do everything that it has made many quite "lost"

#14 Ange remplie

Posted 23 January 2013 - 12:24 PM

QUOTE (gettheetoanunnery @ 23/01/2013, 12:56 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I remember a dear friend I had who grew up in South Africa  telling me about her complete breakdown in an Australian supermarket when faced with the great wall of cereal.
She had previously the choice between three.


Actually, it's funny you should say that.  One of my earliest memories is of my mum and dad puzzling over the different varieties of margarine in the supermarket (we had recently arrived from SA).

#15 YodaTheWrinkledOne

Posted 23 January 2013 - 12:45 PM

QUOTE (Mary Whether @ 23/01/2013, 11:42 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I am torn.  I can totally see the point, and I feel affected by the "too much choice...ahhhhh, can't cope!" blues at times, but I also think this is a discussion of extreme privilege.

This is very true, and often forgotten.

Nothing annoys me more than being forced into a position because someone couldn't make a friggin' decision when they had the luxury of time, simply because there were too many options.  Drives me insane!  If it's all similarly tortuous and equal pros and cons between the options, then pick one at random!!!!  It's not rocket science, life will continue no matter what choice you make.  It's not pivotal for the world, get over it.

In terms of buying a product in a store, I can be very ruthless.  I often shake my head at how much of the same stuff is offered to consumer under different packaging.  Toothpaste is a prime example.  People waste a year of their lives choosing toothpaste, I don't get why .....

Edited by YodaTheWrinkledOne, 23 January 2013 - 01:00 PM.


#16 Literary Lemur

Posted 23 January 2013 - 12:53 PM

QUOTE (Mary Whether @ 23/01/2013, 12:42 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I am torn.  I can totally see the point, and I feel affected by the "too much choice...ahhhhh, can't cope!" blues at times, but I also think this is a discussion of extreme privilege.


Yes it is a privilege.

But perhaps we need to stop and ask if more IS better?  Who is driving the "moreness".  Is it fulfilling real needs or just creating imaginary needs?

How much is branding about this very issue?  Brand "loyalty" is about not having to make a choice?

And have people become products we choose as well.  On internet sites we can select physical and personality traits as well as levels of education etc.  Does this make people less satisfied with the relationship they are in?    

And then I wonder if the choices are mostly illusionary.  How many products are just rebranded and repackaged to give us the impression that we have many to choose from?  






#17 TheGreenSheep

Posted 23 January 2013 - 01:03 PM

LOL @ stopwhingatme

Yes I do.

Example I was researching a product online. I was spending too much time agonising between online sites, reviews and opinions of select products and price point v value, delivery charges etc,

Far out, didnt get anywhere but wasted too much prescious time on it.

Went to the shops and bought the exact one I wanted and at a reasonable price point in the second shop I went into. Happy shopper! Wish I hadnt wasted my time online....

Oh and I bought a new baking dish  blush.gif FFS

#18 Literary Lemur

Posted 23 January 2013 - 03:09 PM

So how do others reduce choices in their lives as a way of making things simpler?

Online shopping is one things that works for me.

I work from a master list and I buy what I need from that list.  If it's on special I buy double my normal quantity.

Soap is "yes" or "no".  I don't ponder the brand, the quantity etc.

Overall I am rubbish with decisions.  I overthink things.

#19 Ange remplie

Posted 23 January 2013 - 03:11 PM

QUOTE (amoral lemur @ 23/01/2013, 04:09 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
So how do others reduce choices in their lives as a way of making things simpler?


Routine is a big one.  If I know that I do x at this time each day, I don't need to think, what shall I do now?  I know it's time for x.  For example.

#20 *LucyE*

Posted 23 January 2013 - 09:35 PM

QUOTE
So how do others reduce choices in their lives as a way of making things simpler?

By being ruthless and understanding myself, my wants and prioritizing.

I have my criteria and I will ruthlessly cull any options that don't fit.  Then whatever options are left, I will use a secondary criteria and continue until the last option standing.  For everyday decisions, this usually takes seconds.

Using the soap example, I only buy real soap not detergent based soaps.  That rules out most supermarket soaps.  I avoid palm or coconut oil soaps, so that rules out a lot of the other soap options.  I have found a few boutique places that make olive oil soap which I buy.

#21 cinnabubble

Posted 23 January 2013 - 09:45 PM

I'm so glad I don't have a strong position on soap.

#22 Literary Lemur

Posted 23 January 2013 - 09:56 PM

QUOTE (cinnabubble @ 23/01/2013, 10:45 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I'm so glad I don't have a strong position on soap.


Really?  I am quite shocked to hear that  tongue.gif

#23 F1widow

Posted 23 January 2013 - 10:00 PM

Really? There's lots of things about soap that bother me.

#24 *LucyE*

Posted 23 January 2013 - 10:04 PM

QUOTE
I'm so glad I don't have a strong position on soap.

tongue.gif   But it is very quick and easy for me to purchase what I want.  I don't stand around paralyzed with indecision over the choices available.

#25 cinnabubble

Posted 23 January 2013 - 10:06 PM

Chocolate, on the other hand...




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