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 magnificent_glow
Joined: 4/6/2012
Msg: 1
the paradox of choicePage 1 of 2    (1, 2)
anyone come across this before?


Conventional wisdom tells us that greater choice is for the greater good, but Schwartz argues the opposite: He makes a compelling case that the abundance of choice in today's western world is actually making us miserable.


http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/barry_schwartz_on_the_paradox_of_choice.html

seems to apply to the online dating thing quite well imo.
 nipoleon
Joined: 12/27/2005
Msg: 2
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the paradox of choice
Posted: 4/17/2012 9:57:32 AM
I haven't watched the video yet, but this is a topic I have thought about quite a bit.

I think a lot of businesses hurt themselves by offering customers too much variety, too many choices.

For example, have you ever been in the drive through at a hamburger joint, and you are confronted with a panoply of endless different choices of things to order ?
When all you really wanted was a simple hamburger ?
But, there are dozens of different hamburgers to choose from.
It takes you 10 minutes just to find the simple hamburger you want and order it.

The more stuff a business offers, the more stuff people want, and the more stuff the business feels it has to offer, and the more frustrating the whole cycle gets for everybody.
And, nobody's ever satisfied.

It's better to do a few things well, than 100 things poorly.
 _TALL_IQ2_
Joined: 2/10/2010
Msg: 3
the paradox of choice
Posted: 4/17/2012 10:07:16 AM
He makes a compelling case that the abundance of choice in today's western world is actually making us miserable.


Psychologists have been studying that phenomenon for a while now, and some have written thesis on it and many more will...
In business and science more choices can make better products and enhance lifestyle.
BUT human relationships are NOT business and more of an art than much science at this point...

Simply put, default human nature is to search for answers/information about things and people, but when the information/options seem too overwhelming to our limited conscious sense ability to process, a default response is to withdraw from the sensory overload source and fallback onto whatever habitually established choices and people that we already "know" and feel comfortable with...

Or to make a selection on whatever superficial/emotional criteria seems to stand out at the moment and then avoid all contradictory information and only accept validating information that reinforces our "confirmation bias"...

Many people seem to relax and feel somewhat "happier" with following someone elses "choices" when complex information can seem too much to deal with.. Such as many of Consumer Reports subscribers who buy only the "best buys"..

Would that there could be a "Dating Reports" magazine that would list all the available local singles and rate them by quality, veracity and previous dates testimonials... Four stars for ME !
 null_locus_accede
Joined: 6/25/2011
Msg: 4
the paradox of choice
Posted: 4/17/2012 10:42:03 AM
If the offerings are not competing against one another, then more is better.
In an all-you-can-eat buffet, the wonton soup isn't trying to get you to commit your money to it exclusively at the expense of having any money left for egg-rolls.
 IgorFrankensteen
Joined: 6/29/2009
Msg: 5
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the paradox of choice
Posted: 4/17/2012 2:34:37 PM
This is indeed a very often discussed set of concepts. I have run into it in a number of versions, as I've been involved with sales a lot, and because I study human behavior, political science, history, and a number if other subjects all the time.

One of the foremost things I suggest that anyone looking at this think about, is that there is more than one kind of offerings of choice. Having options in one situation can be a plus, in others a distraction.

And too, there is a HUGE aspect of thinking about this, which is very commonly overlooked by those discussing it: the way a given person deals with having choices to make, plays a bigger part in whether having choices available is a good thing or a not so good thing, than does the existence of the choices.

For myself, I have experienced situations where having options caused me confusion. What I learned from those situations was, not that there is such a thing as having too many options, but that there are some aspects of life which require a lot more preparation and self-knowledge than a person realizes before they arrive at the moment of choosing.

Case in point: there are situations, wherein the most important thing is not to make the best choice, rather it is most important to make a timely choice. In situations such as that, having too many options can be a burden.

In the realm of looking for mates, the primary potential danger of having too many acceptable choices possible, isn't just that the person choosing might not take the best one for them, it's that they will damage their relationship with the one they DO choose, by how long they pause in consideration of the options.

When you are buying a car or a TV, the car or the TV doesn't care how long you take t make your mind up. But in the world of people choosing, the time it takes to make one's mind up can result in the destruction of all sorts of romantic sensibilities, and even make the one choosing, seem to the one being chosen or deselected, to be a "player," or worse.

Succinctly speaking, I'm trying to say that it's an oversimplification (and I think a dangerous one in many instances) to say that "too much choice is a bad thing." It's too complicated a thing for a simple statement one way or the other.
 Aries_328
Joined: 10/16/2011
Msg: 6
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the paradox of choice
Posted: 4/17/2012 5:01:59 PM
He makes a compelling case that the abundance of choice in today's western world is actually making us miserable


When did anyone come to a consensus that the western world is miserable? Also his entire premise that it is so deeply embedded is entirely false. Apple removed choice years ago and people love it.

We do not have the plethora of choices that he is alluding to. The anecdote of 6.5 million types of stereo systems is not because of choice it is entrepreneurial endeavors to meet a specific demand that makes it to the limited set of mass accepted things.

So, it isn't about the amount of choices as much as it is the ability to put your own version of a choice into the mix and see if you have the ingredients to make it a successful venture.

Let's say you were a novelist. There are millions of books. Each one of them could be seen as a choice if that is what you were looking at. As a Novelist would you really want the choices of books to be removed to a limited set of approved choices so it was easier on a theoretical basis that too much choice makes people unhappy? It doesn't make sense at all. As a Novelist you would want to submit your idea to the list of choices with the expectation, hope, or desire that your work stood out enough to become someone’s choice.

Sometimes having many competing options makes choosing difficult. But seldom does having too many options make life really miserable. It may make you picky but that is because you have options to be picky about.

As for dating... Having choices is a whole lot better than not having choices. Being picky about your choice allows you to even extend your choice outside of your immediate area to find someone that may contribute to your happiness even more.
 Kevin554
Joined: 3/20/2012
Msg: 7
the paradox of choice
Posted: 4/17/2012 8:35:20 PM
Well why don't you read about the life of a russian under Lenin's leadership? They were a communist society and inherintly had fewer choices available to them, especially when it came to buying goods. But whats important is why he was so exalted. Unlike his darker counterpart Stalin, Russia's people absolutely loved him, even generations today have something to good to say about him. They built statues of him all by themselves all over the country. Life was happy, life was good, in general. The primary differences between Lenin's Russia, and our America today, Is that russia had fewer options generally speaking, but had far less problems. This was all up until Stalin walked in around WW2 and turned the country upside down, by excersizing too much federal power.
 Aries_328
Joined: 10/16/2011
Msg: 8
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the paradox of choice
Posted: 4/17/2012 10:51:40 PM
^^^^So what you are saying is that, "In Soviet Russia, choice has you!"
 aremeself
Joined: 12/31/2008
Msg: 9
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the paradox of choice
Posted: 4/17/2012 11:20:24 PM
we are under the illusion that stuff makes us happy.

people with and without stuff think that.

by stuff I mean the usual materialistic stuff and almost ALL feelings stuff.

including the feelings themselves.

we think the feelings we get from all of this 'stuff ' is going to make us happy.

we aquire this stuff for only one reason, a feeling, the feeling of happiness.

if you can't be happy with nothing, you won't be happy with all the stuff either.

food, health, and warmth are ok though.
 Kevin554
Joined: 3/20/2012
Msg: 10
the paradox of choice
Posted: 4/18/2012 11:39:11 AM
"^^^^So what you are saying is that, "In Soviet Russia, choice has you!" "

- Haha. Funny but that's definently not what I am saying. In Russia before stalin's time there was always choice in many things, just to a lesser degree especially with market goods. In some ways though they experienced greater freedoms, choices without an attached worry. In lenin's Russia for a vague and simple example, you did not have to worry about taxes. In today's america, there is the possibility that problems with the IRS can ruin your life, and you know that every time you file for your taxes, there is the chance that something is not done right, that something may happen, and that it may be a while before you are aware of it, and further that when a situation arises between the IRS and you, you are held with full responsibility with everything. In lenin's russia, those things don't exist. Some people like the worries and turmoils of life because it gives them an advantage over other people who don't thrive so well over negative things. The point being there is still a market, still a sense of property, but worry, uncertainty, inequality is reduced to a minimum, meaning choices in such a situation are more life oriented vs what your going to find on the shelf at the store. Im not necessesarily promoting such a society itself, but I am pointing out that the differences may be worth looking at. They were happy, we, in general, are not, when it comes to our moods collectively.
 lagoda
Joined: 11/20/2009
Msg: 11
the paradox of choice
Posted: 4/18/2012 12:53:51 PM


"^^^^So what you are saying is that, "In Soviet Russia, choice has you!" "


- Haha. Funny but that's definently not what I am saying. In Russia before stalin's time there was always choice in many things, just to a lesser degree especially with market goods. In some ways though they experienced greater freedoms, choices without an attached worry. In lenin's Russia for a vague and simple example, you did not have to worry about taxes. In today's america, there is the possibility that problems with the IRS can ruin your life, and you know that every time you file for your taxes, there is the chance that something is not done right, that something may happen, and that it may be a while before you are aware of it, and further that when a situation arises between the IRS and you, you are held with full responsibility with everything. In lenin's russia, those things don't exist. Some people like the worries and turmoils of life because it gives them an advantage over other people who don't thrive so well over negative things. The point being there is still a market, still a sense of property, but worry, uncertainty, inequality is reduced to a minimum, meaning choices in such a situation are more life oriented vs what your going to find on the shelf at the store. Im not necessesarily promoting such a society itself, but I am pointing out that the differences may be worth looking at. They were happy, we, in general, are not, when it comes to our moods collectively.


You can't say they were happier. They drank themselves to death to deaden the pain of reality that offered little diversity, no opportunity for creative pursuits, or chance to rise above the crowd. America has these freedoms but not everyone is awake to the fact that it's the pursuit itself that holds the essence of any meaning, joy, and fulfillment, not the acquisition of the gadgets, money, and status.

Cheer up. There's always retirement. As long as there's a roof over one's head and food on the table, this can be a relief to a whole $hi!load of frustration. Sometimes when people reach the age of retirement and see how little they can buy with their money, they often say meh! There's often a willingness acquired by default to dumb themselves down to the latest technological devices and the need to go easy on the digestion. It means fewer objects to move around when doing spring cleaning, or give away to the kids who won't appreciate them anyway. Eventually all that really needs to be accepted is there never was any any relevant choices because death and taxes trump them all.
 Kevin554
Joined: 3/20/2012
Msg: 12
the paradox of choice
Posted: 4/19/2012 1:46:38 PM
"You can't say they were happier. They drank themselves to death to deaden the pain of reality that offered little diversity, no opportunity for creative pursuits, or chance to rise above the crowd. America has these freedoms but not everyone is awake to the fact that it's the pursuit itself that holds the essence of any meaning, joy, and fulfillment, not the acquisition of the gadgets, money, and status."

-They had more opportunity then you may know. Your probably thinking about the post-lenin era, with stalin, ww2, the cold war and so forth. Saying they drank themselves to death to deaden the pain of reality, would be no different than the related consumption in Ireland or germany. America and germany consumes more then they do. And back then, alcohol was less available due to technology. And they had chance to rise above the crowd. They had electoral positions... even stalin did!, even though stalin was a bit more evil than his predecesor. They had full diveristy, they were the most diverse european nation by a long shot! Look at their culture! Their art! Life in Russia was very secluded, conservative and free. And I can say that, collectively, they were happier. Read books about Lenin's Russia, read about their cities and what people have done in honor towards him. Talk to a modern day russian who used to live there. I can't stress enough just how different Russia was before and after 1941. Nearly everyone who knows anything about them is more familiar with post-1941 Russia. Name me the most negative aspect in pre-1941 Russia. The only thing there that was truely constrictive in any sense was the eastern-orthodox church. Other then that, I think you just pointed out a big point here. If you provide a system solely based on a consumer marketing and capitalism, then life will be about the aquisition of gadgets, money and status. You pointed out something this country has proved. So, if a system creates affliction in a society, how do you go about solving it?
 lagoda
Joined: 11/20/2009
Msg: 13
the paradox of choice
Posted: 4/19/2012 4:42:08 PM

"You can't say they were happier. They drank themselves to death to deaden the pain of reality that offered little diversity, no opportunity for creative pursuits, or chance to rise above the crowd. America has these freedoms but not everyone is awake to the fact that it's the pursuit itself that holds the essence of any meaning, joy, and fulfillment, not the acquisition of the gadgets, money, and status."


-They had more opportunity then you may know. Your probably thinking about the post-lenin era, with stalin, ww2, the cold war and so forth. Saying they drank themselves to death to deaden the pain of reality, would be no different than the related consumption in Ireland or germany. America and germany consumes more then they do. And back then, alcohol was less available due to technology. And they had chance to rise above the crowd. They had electoral positions... even stalin did!, even though stalin was a bit more evil than his predecesor. They had full diveristy, they were the most diverse european nation by a long shot! Look at their culture! Their art! Life in Russia was very secluded, conservative and free. And I can say that, collectively, they were happier. Read books about Lenin's Russia, read about their cities and what people have done in honor towards him. Talk to a modern day russian who used to live there. I can't stress enough just how different Russia was before and after 1941. Nearly everyone who knows anything about them is more familiar with post-1941 Russia. Name me the most negative aspect in pre-1941 Russia. The only thing there that was truely constrictive in any sense was the eastern-orthodox church. Other then that, I think you just pointed out a big point here. If you provide a system solely based on a consumer marketing and capitalism, then life will be about the aquisition of gadgets, money and status. You pointed out something this country has proved. So, if a system creates affliction in a society, how do you go about solving it?



In Russia before stalin's time there was always choice in many things, just to a lesser degree especially with market goods.


I've read quite a bit of historical Russian fiction as well as Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky and I agree the culture is wonderfully rich. Though I didn't nail the time period like you have, I focused neither on the earlier nobility or the bourgeoisie but the lower working class who were very poor through the span of Lenin and up to Stalin, as your earlier post suggests.

I hardly think this class had the opportunity to participate much in the arts and literature or enjoy the fruits of diverse economies, and because of poverty, were not fully appreciative of the richness of their culture. I do think that with the more relaxed economy since the ending of the cold war, the working class in Russia has re-discovered its culture and are thrilled that there is so much worldwide appreciation of it. This is probably what you experience first hand and adds to your passion for the Russian culture.

I don't see though, that the Russian economy has had much exposure to the phenomenon the OP is talking about.
 aremeself
Joined: 12/31/2008
Msg: 14
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the paradox of choice
Posted: 4/20/2012 10:32:41 PM
lots drink here too, thinking they are trapped.

I thought they drank to numb the senses, to not think and speak about the political failures for fear of reprisal.

Conventional wisdom tells us that greater choice is for the greater good, but Schwartz argues the opposite: He makes a compelling case that the abundance of choice in today's western world is actually making us miserable.

materialistic choices don't make us happy, so now with endless choices it just takes forever to go through them all to find out 'it' ain't there!
 Aries_328
Joined: 10/16/2011
Msg: 15
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the paradox of choice
Posted: 4/21/2012 9:47:59 AM

materialistic choices don't make us happy, so now with endless choices it just takes forever to go through them all to find out 'it' ain't there!


And that is why I think it is BS. The availablility of choice has nothing to do with it. If you are going to be dumb and wrap your emotions around choices you are going to be endlessly confused. If you are going to be dumb and wrap your emotions around materialism you are going to be endlessly unfulfilled.

The greatest choice we have is to "not do that"

The amount of choices can be seen as noise. Without all of those choices we are only told what to do.
 earthlingsRevenge
Joined: 10/30/2009
Msg: 16
the paradox of choice
Posted: 4/21/2012 10:17:15 AM

Conventional wisdom tells us that greater choice is for the greater good, but Schwartz argues the opposite: He makes a compelling case that the abundance of choice in today's western world is actually making us miserable.


This indirectly supports my personal observation.

Happiness is relative. It doesn't matter where and under what conditions you live, you can be happy given the right circumstances

One thing for sure, ignorants are prone to make more mistakes with multiple choices.
 lagoda
Joined: 11/20/2009
Msg: 17
the paradox of choice
Posted: 4/21/2012 11:13:13 AM
The study of modern day cultural phenomenon, when done through the eyes of psychologists, often attracts its fair share of skepticism. Not to say that the other accredited professions with their peer recognition and competition for funding opportunities, etc. don't as well, but the human sciences especially the nature of psychology, brings this upon itself. Considering the audiences for best selling books who can't get enough of pop culture phenomenon, there's often more reliance on the conclusion than the statistics warrant so the field will deliberately 'dumb itself down'.

Having said that, I don't think Barry Schwartz's 'Paradox of Choice' is full of BS, if we take it in the context of its target audience. Assuming people are going out to buy an electronic device, of which there are 50 models to choose from, because they were told to do it by command of the consumer overlord, then he is really on to something. Other than this being the educational means by which a few unaware consumers might wake up to their zombie-like behavior, he is preaching to the choir. If the target is the advertising market and manufacturers, I doubt they'll pick up on the message unless the bean counters tell them to.
 Aries_328
Joined: 10/16/2011
Msg: 18
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the paradox of choice
Posted: 4/21/2012 11:43:59 AM
...in the context of its target audience. Assuming people are going out to buy an electronic device, of which there are 50 models to choose from, because they were told to do it by command of the consumer overlord, then he is really on to something. Other than this being the educational means by which a few unaware consumers might wake up to their zombie-like behavior, he is preaching to the choir....


What I get that you are saying is that it is Not BS to the limited target audience that really do have their head explode because of the plethora of choices in the world.

Ok. I could agree with that. There is always that grain of truth in things. If there wasn't even a hint of it then the theory wouldn't be worth much putting out there.

Driving cars is deadly. Because people die we shouldn't allow cars on the road. Same level of truthfulness.

:)
 Balsamica
Joined: 2/24/2012
Msg: 19
the paradox of choice
Posted: 4/21/2012 12:02:18 PM
It's not only too many choices but the eager anticipation of "new and improved" choices, too, yet to come.........
 Aries_328
Joined: 10/16/2011
Msg: 20
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the paradox of choice
Posted: 4/21/2012 12:06:43 PM

It's not only too many choices but the eager anticipation of "new and improved" choices, too, yet to come.........


Again, that is the individual act and simply, 'not doing that,' resolves this problem. That is the human individual and not the existence of the choice. Only a limited set of people fall to this. Not everyone.
 lagoda
Joined: 11/20/2009
Msg: 21
the paradox of choice
Posted: 4/21/2012 1:52:40 PM
So we all agree then that there is something more than an aspect of economics that makes western society as a whole, unhappy?
 Aries_328
Joined: 10/16/2011
Msg: 22
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the paradox of choice
Posted: 4/21/2012 1:59:10 PM

...that makes western society as a whole, unhappy?


Where does that conclusion come from? Western society is nowhere near unahppy as a whole. We do have lots of complainers though. Loudness of complaint and whining ****y people don't equate to all of a society and nowhere even close to all of western society.
 Kevin554
Joined: 3/20/2012
Msg: 23
the paradox of choice
Posted: 4/21/2012 2:21:32 PM
"So we all agree then that there is something more than an aspect of economics that makes western society as a whole, unhappy?"

-Well, if you can quanitify a western society, measuring a negative quality that differentiates them, from the 'not-western', then what is it that is limited to western society to influence these effects?

I do agree that there is some kind of affliction. But because it is very psychologically involved, we have to be very careful on how we approach that matter.
 lagoda
Joined: 11/20/2009
Msg: 24
the paradox of choice
Posted: 4/21/2012 2:34:28 PM

...that makes western society as a whole, unhappy?


Where does that conclusion come from? Western society is nowhere near unahppy as a whole. We do have lots of complainers though. Loudness of complaint and whining ****y people don't equate to all of a society and nowhere even close to all of western society.


That conclusion seems to have come from the OP, or that of Barry Schwartz.


Conventional wisdom tells us that greater choice is for the greater good, but Schwartz argues the opposite: He makes a compelling case that the abundance of choice in today's western world is actually making us miserable.


I didn't know whether there was disagreement with 'the abundance of choice' or with 'today's western world' as being 'miserable'.
 Aries_328
Joined: 10/16/2011
Msg: 25
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the paradox of choice
Posted: 4/21/2012 3:04:49 PM
'today's western world' as being 'miserable'.


I totally disagree with that. Maybe it is just my perspective but I am quite content sitting in my chair babbling here right now after having done some basic chores and cooked my own lunch. I have been feeling under the weather lately and have taken some medications where my likely plan for the evening is to chill. Outside is a really beautiful day and the delivery guy that dropped off my groceries was in a pleasant mood about it being such a beautiful day. We discussed the difficulties with the expenses of groceries these days and how much less we are able to purchase at today’s rates. Across the street some neighbors have landscaped their yard with hundreds of flowers and they are all in full bloom and quite attractive and bring a lot of color to the street.

The community I live in is very ethnic and for the most part they don’t like me much. They are quick to get angry with me if I am pulling out of my driveway and they are wanting to cross my path. They complain about my little dog yet have their own that from what I can tell are much more of an issue than my own. They can be quite rude and never acknowledge a hi or a smile. At night if you happen to hear fights or arguing it is almost always in a foreign language and is rather annoying. They have basically chosen to be obnoxious and rude people all on their own.

They made their choice to live this way. Their choice to live their way impacts my life but does not rule it. As soon as my daughter graduates from the very good public school in this area I am moving and hopefully to a place where people don’t spend their entire waking days complaining about everything.

Where is the misery of the Western World that exists outside of the jerks that make it that way?
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