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Archive: Barry Schwartz on the paradox of choice, on TED.com

Posted by: Tedstaff

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Psychologist Barry Schwartz studies freedom of choice — and has made some surprising findings. A wealth of choices, he has found, can make us not happier but more dissatisfied, not free but paralyzed. (Recorded July 2005 in Oxford, UK. Duration: 19:48)


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Comments (21)

  • Tom Phillips commented on Jun 12 2009

    This talk was great. Barry Schwartz’s editorials in the New York Times was interesting.

  • My Morcilla commented on May 27 2009

    His findings does not surprise me at all. What we decide for ourselves is what we got. We are the sole responsible on what course in this life we want to live. baby shower games

  • James Ma commented on May 26 2009

    It takes a while to finish the talk. I am using ADSL. Take some time to digest. Lose Weight In A Week

  • Nagendra Singh commented on May 21 2009

    His findings don’t really surprise me at all. I think Daniel Matthis has it quite correct:

    “As much as i would like to think most people want to be responsible for themselves the reality is that most do not. It’s easier to have someone else make the “tough” decisions for you. So now the question is how do you accommodate both? ”

    People tend to choose the path of least resistance, just like electricity and just like water. Being responsible for ourselves, as Daniel has correctly pointed out, is rather tough.
    ~fReEVOiPCaLl~

  • Usman Iftikhar commented on May 10 2009

    Each time i see his talks it gives me feeling of motivation,he has mind blowing knowledge.

  • Mike Lee commented on May 8 2009

    Barry Schwartz’s talk is very interesting. I agree with his points on that A wealth of choices, he has found, can make us not happier but more dissatisfied, not free but paralyzed. I like his talk.

    Mike
    coupon

  • Ayo Bakare commented on Apr 28 2009

    I think he does most of his talks in the US, but ive seen him once in England at Cambridge which was a great experience. He is a very knowledable man!

  • Jenny Hopper commented on Apr 22 2009

    Wow Barry is very insightful, I am really feeling motivated after watching him. Does he do talks in any major cities? He truly has a wonderful vision.

  • Steve Roger commented on Apr 17 2009

    He is one of teh person whom I always wanted to meet.

  • Greg Gannon commented on Apr 1 2009

    We need to maximize individual freedom. However, I fear that in many areas we are moving away from freedom for the individual. I have no desire to have anyone make any choices for me.

  • Cruttera Dotcom commented on Mar 13 2009

    I loved reading Barry Schwartz’s editorials in the New York Times.
    positive thinking

  • anand suppiah commented on Feb 21 2009

    The speed of my internet connection is ridiculously bad, but i still watched.. Leaving that aside, i really beleive that too much of choice is not that good after all. We waste more time considering which to choose than acting on it. a perfect speech.

    Imagine looking at your wife going trough the stores.. sometimes i just wish they had 1 type of clothes.

    anand suppiah

  • simon paul commented on Jan 4 2009

    Having someone else make decisions for you that affect your life sounds a hell of a lot like communism or big brother to me. Creating a prosperous, safe free society with an abundance of choice while idealistic, should always be our ultimate goal as human beings.

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  • steve james commented on Dec 14 2008

    Choice is good and an abundance of choice is even better provided one has the education and knowledge to make an informed decision and overcome analysis paralysis and move forward.
    What of a youth growing up in a gang dominated inner city ghetto I should imagine he thinks of his choices and options in life as rather limited. Offering these children more options would improve their chances wouldn’t they?

    Steve

  • Jenny Hopper commented on Oct 10 2008

    The path of least resistance is another term for lazy, most people do not want to do the work needed to get what thay want, there wants and needs get confused I must say. We must live in the bed that we make. One’s vison must be focused.

  • Angela Edwards commented on Aug 16 2008

    His findings don’t really surprise me. I think Daniel Matthis has it correct:

    “As much as i would like to think most people want to be responsible for themselves the reality is that most do not. It’s easier to have someone else make the “tough” decisions for you. So now the question is how do you accommodate both? ”

    People tend to choose the path of least resistance, just like electricity and just like water. Being responsible for ourselves, as Daniel has correctly pointed out, is rather tough.

    Angela

  • Marc Bookmeyer commented on Aug 15 2008

    To Daniel Matthis,

    I would argue that we have a culture designed to produce people that exactly fit the description you allude to: not inclined to being wise enough to make decisions. Correction of this situation is either a mass awakening, or a concerted effort to reorganize our schools and start with our youth. Stop giving the kids stuff to memorize and teach them to use their minds. Teach them critical thinking skills.

  • Daniel Matthis commented on Aug 14 2008

    To Marc Bookmeyer,

    I think the problem also lies in with the a combination of wisdom, risk aversion, and liberty. Those who are not inclined to being wise enough to make those decisions, don’t want the risk, and will trade liberty for and easy life will run into the problem that Barry is pointing out.

    As much as i would like to think most people want to be responsible for themselves the reality is that most do not. It’s easier to have someone else make the “tough” decisions for you. So now the question is how do you accommodate both?

    The people who drive business want choice and options but the people who often work in the business tend not to want the risk. The entrepreneur takes risk and responsibility to reap rewards and brings about innovation while the 9-5 work generally seeks security in their job.

  • Daniel Matthis commented on Aug 14 2008

    I like 3 combination of choice when it comes to goods and services.

    Good, fast, and cheep. Pick 2.

  • Marc Bookmeyer commented on Aug 14 2008

    What you are looking at is indecision, fear of making the wrong choice. So your solution is to take away choice so we would be right, all the time, because there literally was no other choice. And we could blame the world for not satisfying us, instead of blaming ourselves for not finding the perfect match for us. Being your own authority, means being responsibility for your own actions, it also means taking responsibility for outcomes based on the decisions that you make. I would always prefer an open arena in where my success are my success and my failures are my failures instead of the spoon feed world where my success and failures would be limited by the structured system and smaller thinking that less choice would lead. What you are taking about is limiting choice is also limiting life. Life is choice. Loving the adventure to finding that perfect match. Perhaps it is finding that perfect match that gives us the strength to keep looking for more. It takes work find out what we like. But finding it is a joy that lasts a lifetime. And as you continue to add upon what you have found that you like, you joy builds. The key is continually putting more options before you so that you can make that choice. Less choice would mean less chance you will find what truly fits you.

    More choice.. Well seems obvious to me, of course I want more choice. Always.

    Was it hard to pick your favorite ice cream flavor? So you taste some bad flavors. Move on. You never have to taste it again. And never substitute someones word for the actual experience of doing it yourself. One person’s hell is another heaven. Someone might swear swimming is hell, but you find you love it…