Dorwin Cartwright Professor of Social Theory and Social Action at Swarthmore College
The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less
Barry Schwartz, Ph.D. is the Dorwin Cartwright Professor of Social Theory and Social Action at Swarthmore College, where he has taught since 1971, and where he researches the link between economics and psychology. He is the author of several books, including The Battle for Human Nature: Science, Morality and Modern Life, The Costs of Living: How Market Freedom Erodes the Best Things in Life, and his acclaimed 2010 book Practical Wisdom: The Right Way to Do the Right Thing. His articles have appeared in many national publications, among them The New York Times, USA Today, Scientific American, and the Chronicle of Higher Education. For some, he is best known for his compelling TED Talks (www.ted.com) — his first, on the topic of his 2004 national bestseller, The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less, went viral, with over 2 million views.
In The Paradox of Choice, Prof. Schwartz offers one more piece to the puzzle that asks, “What is it about contemporary lifestyles that results in human dissatisfaction?” He examines the overabundance of choice in all aspects of American life, from consumerism to education, from work to interpersonal relationships. Unpacking common notions of freedom, autonomy and self-determination that equate increased choice with increased well-being and life satisfaction, he will show us how an abundance of choice is instead making us discontented and may be contributing to a near-epidemic of depression – “more” is indeed “less.” Prof. Schwartz suggests that humans actually obtain greater satisfaction from fewer choices. He demonstrates that emotional well-being depends on our ability to exert control over the environment, but choice overload leaves us with the feeling that there is always something better, more perfect to attain, acquire or achieve. To avoid decision-making paralysis, Prof. Schwartz advocates for “choice within constraints and freedom within limits enable us to imagine a host of possibilities.” This is a must-see event for parents and teens!