The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less (Anglais) Broché – 18 janvier 2005
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Revue de presse
“An insightful study that winningly argues its subtitle.” (Philadelphia Inquirer)
“Schwartz lays out a convincing argument.... [He] is a crisp, engaging writer with an excellent sense of pace.” (Austin American-Statesman)
“Schwartz offers helpful suggestions of how we can manage our world of overwhelming choices.” (St. Petersburg Times)
“Wonderfully readable.” (Washington Post)
“Schwartz has plenty of insightful things to say about the perils of everyday life.” (Booklist)
“With its clever analysis, buttressed by sage New Yorker cartoons, The Paradox of Choice is persuasive.” (BusinessWeek)
Présentation de l'éditeur
Whether we're buying a pair of jeans, ordering a cup of coffee, selecting a long-distance carrier, applying to college, choosing a doctor, or setting up a 401(k), everyday decisions—both big and small—have become increasingly complex due to the overwhelming abundance of choice with which we are presented.
As Americans, we assume that more choice means better options and greater satisfaction. But beware of excessive choice: choice overload can make you question the decisions you make before you even make them, it can set you up for unrealistically high expectations, and it can make you blame yourself for any and all failures. In the long run, this can lead to decision-making paralysis, anxiety, and perpetual stress. And, in a culture that tells us that there is no excuse for falling short of perfection when your options are limitless, too much choice can lead to clinical depression.
In The Paradox of Choice, Barry Schwartz explains at what point choice—the hallmark of individual freedom and self-determination that we so cherish—becomes detrimental to our psychological and emotional well-being. In accessible, engaging, and anecdotal prose, Schwartz shows how the dramatic explosion in choice—from the mundane to the profound challenges of balancing career, family, and individual needs—has paradoxically become a problem instead of a solution. Schwartz also shows how our obsession with choice encourages us to seek that which makes us feel worse.
By synthesizing current research in the social sciences, Schwartz makes the counter intuitive case that eliminating choices can greatly reduce the stress, anxiety, and busyness of our lives. He offers eleven practical steps on how to limit choices to a manageable number, have the discipline to focus on those that are important and ignore the rest, and ultimately derive greater satisfaction from the choices you have to make.
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Ce livre fait une synthèse des paradoxes que posent le choix .
Pour avoir un semblant de liberté il faut avoir la possibilité du choix et tout à la fois trop de choix tuent la liberté et surtout nous amènent à la frustration du style :
" j'ai pris ce produit mais l'autre n'est -il pas meilleur ?" et ainsi de suite..
Il nous fait aussi prendre en compte le Temps que l'on perd devant la multitude de choix proposés :
Un exemple basique : Les oeufs ; Auparavant il y avait les oeufs provenant de la ferme et ceux provenant des élevages en batterie (2 choix) ; De nos jours pour ceux qui fréquentent encore les supermarchés, ils peuvent passer un temps infini à savoir lesquels choisir, tellement le choix est devenu important et ridicule .
ce livre est drôle et pose des questions assez profondes sur notre société de consommation à outrance !
A lire absolument !
Il utilise intelligemment la théorie des perspectives de Kahneman et Tversky ainsi que celle de l'aversion au regret pour offrir un cadre théorique au constat initial.
A mettre entre toutes les mains (sans perdre du temps et de l'énergie à comparer avec les milliers d'autres ouvrages proposés sur le site:-)
Too much examples and a lack of synthesis sometimes , we could have expected a more strategic book
Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com (beta)
I have seen Barry Schwartz interviewed on TV and listened to a radio interview regarding this book. These interviews focused a lot on decision-making in things like shopping, and how having more choices actually makes shopping harder and makes everyone dislike the process more.
I think "Paradox of Choice" does bring insight into shopping, but its range is actually much wider than that. Schwartz discusses people making difficult decisions about jobs, families, where to live, whether to have children, how to spend recreational time, choosing colleges, etc. He talks about why making these decisions today is much harder than it was 30 years ago, and he offers many practical suggestions for how to address decision-making so that it creates less stress and more happiness. He even discusses how so much additional choice affects children, and how parents can help make childhood (particularly young childhood) less stressful.
There are two other factors about this book that really made it great for me. The first is that Schwartz is a serious academic (although his writing isn't dense in any way at all) -- so he talks about studies that back up his assertions in every facet of his argument. He describes the studies in a very lively way, so that they really come to life, and we can understand how they relate to the issue at hand. And, importantly, we then realize that his discussion is really founded on the latest and most advanced research into decision-making. This is not some self-help guru with a half-baked idea spouting off.
The other thing that I really like about this book is that it has given me a new way to think about our larger society, and what I like and don't like about it. Schwartz has written books before that are expressly critiques of some aspects of America today, and while this book is more focused on the individual, you can't help but come away feeling more thoughtful about the larger effect of these issues on our culture.
I only wish that I had read this book before my latest career change -- it would have saved me a considerable amount of anguish. This is a great book!!
Need proof? Well, be careful what you wish for! Because I, obsessive nerd that I am, actually kept track. The repeated studies are as follows (and please feel free to skip this paragraph if you haven't read "Stumbling"): the unpleasant noise/colonoscopy "peak end" experiment (pp. 49-50, paperback edition); the college student snack-picking survey (p. 51), the 3rd letter/1st letter demonstration of the availability heuristic (page 58); the $100 coin flip risk assessment analysis (p.65); the $20 concert ticket example of "sunk costs" (pp.70-3); the "experience sampling method" (p.106); trade offs involving new car options (p.124), the picture choosing study (p.138); the lottery/quadriplegic examples of hedonic temperature on p.170. And I could go on (really!), but I think I'll spare you (and me) the trouble.
Suffice it to say, if you read "Stumbling on Happiness," you will find a lot of repeat material here. And you may find that frustrating, as I sometimes did. If you're still interested in the ideas (and solutions) presented in this book, I recommend you pick it up in the library and just read chapters 4 and 11, which for all practical purposes can serve as a condensed version of the entire work.
But even if you haven't read "Stumbling," there's still quite a bit of this book that can be skimmed past without missing too much - especially in the beginning. In chapters one and two, the author goes a little overboard (perhaps intentionally?) in showing us just how easy it is to drown in the sea of choices that can be made in every facet of life.
It all becomes a bit repetitive and recurring and redundant and sometimes makes its points a few too many times over (much like I just did in this very sentence - annoying, isn't it?). I mean, the "jeans story" in the prologue is amusing and easy to relate to, but in Part I of the book ("When We Choose") we have to hear about how many options are involved in (*takes a deep breath*) groceries and gadgets and catalogs and academics and entertainment and utilities and health insurance and retirement plans and medical care and beauty and work and love and worship and identity. (*falls on ground, gasping for air*)
I GET it, Barry! I UNDERSTAND there are too many choices in the world - that's why I bought your gol-danged book! For the impatient readers out there, I would suggest skipping these chapters entirely (but then again, that would entail you having to make another choice, and I don't want to burden you with yet another one - so forget I mentioned it, okay?)
Thankfully, it gets better. Part II ("How We Choose") is decidedly more rewarding (save for the repeat studies mentioned above). On pages 77-8, Schwartz lays out his central construct of "maximizers vs. satisficers": "If you seek and accept only the best, you are a maximizer...The alternative to maximizing is to be a satificer. To satisfice is to settle for something that is good enough and not worry about the possibility that there might be something better."
And until the final chapter, the rest of the book (aka Part III: "Why We Suffer") is spent convincingly (albeit somewhat relentlessly) warning against the energy-draining dangers of "maximizing" and extolling the virtues of "satisficing." (And, let the record show, it is never explained (in my copy, anyway), where the term "satisficing" comes from. I suppose it is an amalgam of "satisfy" and "suffice," but to this reader it seems a little forced, unnecessary and even a bit pretentious - and I usually like dumb wordplay.)
I truly enjoyed the ensuing discussions about concepts such as: the wealth/availability of choices in various nations and how it correlates (or doesn't) to happiness; harnessing the power of second order decisions; how to best deal with opportunity costs (according to standard economic assumptions); the confounding qualities inherent in trade-offs; how counterfactuals can be used for the power of good; and the vagaries of such things as "inaction inertia" and "positional goods."
(And by the way, if the above list sounds a bit dry to your ears... that's because it is. The writing in this book exists on the cusp between the conversational and the academic. It's not quite as engaging or chatty as the prose of other pop-science authors like Leavit or Gladwell or Gilbert, but it's not so dry that you could use it to mop up nasty spills...)
Along the way, a collection of not-very-funny half- to full-page New Yorker comic strip panels appear every 25 pages or so and don't do a heck of a lot to spice up the proceedings. Also, the penultimate chapter on depression seems to come out of nowhere and has little to do with the rest of the book.
But the final chapter (found in Part IV: "What We Can Do") does a nice job of summing up the concepts and suggesting possible coping strategies. Though I struggled at times with the pace and the tone of this book (perhaps because I was spoiled by "Stumbling"), I still think there is enough good stuff in here to merit a perusal.
No one is immune, he says. Even if someone doesn't care about clothes or restaurants, he might care very much about TV channels or books. And these are just the relatively unimportant kinds of choices. Which cookie or pair of jeans we choose doesn't really matter very much. Which health care plan or which university we choose matters quite a lot. How do different people deal with making decisions?
Schwartz analyzes from every angle how people make choices. He divides people into two groups, Maximizers and Satisficers, to describe how some people try to make the best possible choice out of an increasing number of options, while others just settle for the first choice that meets their standards. (I think he should have held out for a better choice of word than "satisficer.")
I was a bit disappointed that Schwartz dismissed the voluntary simplicity movement so quickly. They have covered this ground and found practical ways of dealing with an overabundance of choice. Instead of exploring their findings, Schwartz picked up a copy of Real Simple magazine, and found it was all about advertising. If he had picked up a copy of The Overspent American by Juliet Schor or Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin instead, he might have found some genuine discussion of simple living rather than Madison Avenue's exploitation of it.
I enjoyed the first part of The Paradox of Choice, about how we choose, but the second half, about regret and depression, seemed to drag. Fortunately, I was able to choose to skim the slow bits and move right to the more interesting conclusion, about how to become more satisfied (or "satisficed") through better decision-making.
Barry Schwartz makes many good points about decision making. One of them is that because of the growing number of choices we are presented with, we don't always have the time to look at all the information out there to make the best choice. Another interesting point is that people expect certain decisions to be made for them. In the health care field for example, we expect the doctor to tell what kind of treatment we need.
I learned from reading this book that we should all strive to be satisficers rather maximizers. A satisficer is a person who chooses a product or service that is good enough. A maximizer is a person who is always trying to get the best product. A satisficer is usually happy with their choice. In contrast, a maximizer isn't happy and often regrets what they bought.
We should also try to stick our choices and not change our minds. This is another way to reduce anixety I learned in the book. This is very hard to do consistently, but I thought this was a good piece of advice. I also enjoyed the idea of being a chooser and not a picker. Choosers have time to change their goals whereas pickers do not. Choosers take their time making a decision considering all their options unlike pickers who do not.
The Paradox of Choice is an excellent book with a lot of interesting information about the habits people have in making decisions. It also has very useful tips on how to reduce anixety in your life.
In THE PARADOX OF CHOICE, Barry Schwartz proposes overabundant choice as a partial explanation for these disturbing trends. In prose that varies from casual and familiar to moderately academic (but never to the point of being difficult), Schwartz dissects the richness of America's consumption-driven society from a psychologist's viewpoint. He contends that too much choice is as bad, or worse, than too few choices and sometimes the same as no choice at all. We face more choices than ever before: more brands of toothpaste or cereal, more options on our cars and computers, more telephone calling plans, more types of vacations, more TV channels, more of everything.
Having so many choices in every aspect of life paralyzes those whom Schjwartz calls maximizers, those who invariably seek the "best" option for every decision. They face untold hours comparing alternatives and can never be happy even after they make their decisions because of other or newer alternatives, their own choice failing to meet their expectations, comparison with others, and adaptation effects which naturally lessen their happiness over time. More fortunate are the "satisficers," those who are content with a good enough solution, yet even they can suffer the same psychic disappointments.
Each chapter of THE PARADOX OF CHOICE examines a different aspect of the "choice overload" problem. Schwartz introduces us to obscure terms like hedonic adaptation, hedonic zero point, and prospect theory, but his explanations are clear, backed up by helpful examples and references to underlying research and studies. For those of us without undergraduate degrees in Psychology, the author provides a gentle introduction to, and fascinating tour of, the psychologies of decision-making and (un)happiness in a consumer society.
While I found much of this book thought provoking, I have two significant criticisms. First, the writing at times feels repetitive and even over-explained, as if this was really an Atlantic Monthly or Psychology Today article forcibly stretched to book length. Second, even granting that the book is pop psychology, many of the author's closing recommendations are laughably simplistic, suggesting that people can simply turn off the same behaviors he has spent the previous 200 pages explaining as basic human nature. It's as if a book about alcoholism ended with cures to "just stop drinking" or "don't go near places where you can get a drink." Telling people to write down every night five things that happened that day for which they were grateful sounds like Dr. Phil coaching Mary Poppins out of her blues.
For readers who want to understand why having more and more seems to bring less and less satisfaction, this book will provide food for thought. As a sociocultural exploration of middle class malaise in the midst of abundance, THE PARADOX OF CHOICE is itself a good choice. As a guide for how to cope with the problem, better to look elsewhere for answers. After all, followers of Buddhism have known for over 2,500 years that material possessions are a major source of human suffering, and for many of the same reasons Schwartz presents in this book.
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