Barry Schwartz – The paradox of choice – Google Tech

Google Tech Talk: The Choice Paradox

Barry Schwartz, Professor of Social Theory and Social Action at Swarthmore College (US).
In a lecture for Google Tech, psychologist Narry Schwartz takes a closer look at a central principle of Western society: Freedom of choice. Freedom of choice is of course also linked to the right to self-determination that is also at the basis of Western society.

According to Schwartz, choice doesn’t make us freer and puts us more in a paralyzed mode. Which does not make us happier and we go through life much more dissatisfied.

Psychologist Barry Schwartz takes aim at a central tenet of western societies: freedom of choice. In Schwartz’s estimation, choice has made us not freer but more paralyzed, not happier but more dissatisfied.

Why listen?

In his 2004 book The Paradox of Choice , Barry Schwartz tackles one of the great mysteries of modern life: Why is it that societies of great abundance — where individuals are offered more freedom and choice (personal, professional, material) than ever before — are now witnessing a near-epidemic of depression? 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.

Keuze – Choice

Infinite choice is paralyzing, Schwartz argues, and exhausting to the human psyche. It leads us to set unreasonably high expectations, question our choices before we even make them and blame our failures entirely on ourselves. His relatable examples, from consumer products (jeans, TVs, salad dressings) to lifestyle choices (where to live, what job to take, who and when to marry), underscore this central point: Too much choice undermines happiness.

Schwartz’s previous research has addressed morality, decision-making and the varied inter-relationships between science and society. Before Paradox he published The Costs of Living, which traces the impact of free-market thinking on the explosion of consumerism — and the effect of the new capitalism on social and cultural institutions that once operated above the market, such as medicine, sports, and the law.

Both books level serious criticism of modern western society, illuminating the under-reported psychological plagues of our time. But they also offer concrete ideas on addressing the problems, from a personal and societal level.

Audiobook – The audio book

Barry Schwartz is the Dorwin Cartwright Professor of Social Theory and Social Action in the psychology department at Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, where he has taught for thirty years. He is the author of several leading textbooks on the psychology of learning and memory, as well as a penetrating look at contemporary life, The Battle for Human Nature: Science, Morality, and Modern Life. Dr. Schwartz is married and has two children.
The lecture is available as audio book on
The Paradox of Choice: Why more is LessPublisher
: Brilliance Audio; MP3 Una edition (April 22, 2014)
Language: EnglishISBN-10
: 149151423XISBN-13
: 978-1491514238

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