An article in the Times Online reports on the stressful effects of having too many consumer choices. The availability of dozens of salad dressings and hundreds of cell phones (and mobile service plans) apparently isn’t giving us the freedom we may assume.
So why does having so much choice make us feel miserable? Shouldn’t we be delighted that we can travel to any corner of the planet for our holidays, or select from tens of thousands of financial plans? Sadly not. Because making a decision is now a nightmare. We can easily end up with what psychologists call “consumer vertigo”, that is, swamped with so many options that we can’t make any decision, or decide wrongly.
“So much choice makes decision-making increasingly complex,” says David Shanks, a psychology professor and the co-author of Straight Choices, a new book that examines how to make the best decisions when faced with a perplexing array of options. We feel bad that every time we do make a choice, it seems we are missing out on other opportunities. This makes us feel inadequate and dissatisfied with what we have chosen.
Author of The Paradox of Choice, psychologist Prof. Barry Schwartz was quoted with some advice. “We need to live in the moment, appreciate what we have and not think about all the other things that we could choose instead.”
Schwartz also gave a 20 minute presentation on the Paradox of Choice at TED Talks, a think tank conference, which you can watch on video here. It’s a powerful talk about a somewhat controversial theory. Do we need a supermarket aisle of salad dressings? Probably not.
I wonder which of those books on choice would make a better purchase? Uh…
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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 19 Aug 2007
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.
Kiume, S. (2007). Too Many Choices. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 23, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2007/08/19/too-many-choices/