I’ve just finished reading The paradox of choice by Barry Schwartz. The main thesis of the book is that having too many choices, together with feeling pressured to make the best choice rather than a “good enough” choice makes us unhappy. The more choices we have, the more time and effort we spend weighting and comparing alternatives, the less satisfied we are with our choices.
The Paradox of Choice and Blink are at the same time very different and very similar books. Blink is more entertaining: to make his point, Malcolm Gladwell tells really good stories. Barry Schwartz lists numbers, studies, and results. Blink is about rapid decision making. The Paradox of choice is about deliberate (and often excruciating) decision making. But the two books cite many of the same studies and, most importantly, they both have a strong and urgent moral message to communicate.
Blink’s message is that the ill effects of snap judgement (bias, stereotyping, and “momentary autism”) can and should be reduced through awareness and training. The Paradox of choice wants to prove that we could be so much happier if we just stopped being so picky and avoided comparing ourselves only to people who are doing better than we are. Happiness, says Schwartz, comes from finding the time to be grateful for what we have and content with our “good enough” lives.
By the way, does anybody have recommendations for recent good books on decision making?
[Oh, I almost forgot: What would Nancy White say about all this?]