The Paradox Of Choice

Dr. Michael LaitmanOpinion (Barry Schwartz, Psychologist): “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.

“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. … Too much choice undermines happiness. …

“‘Clinical depression has exploded in the industrial world in the last generation. I believe a significant — not the only, but a significant — contributor to this explosion of depression, and also suicide, is that people have experiences that are disappointing because their standards are so high, and then when they have to explain these experiences to themselves, they think they’re at fault. And so the net result is that we do better in general, objectively, and we feel worse. …’

“‘If some of what enables people in our societies to make all of the choices we make were shifted to societies in which people have too few options, not only would those people’s lives be improved, but ours would be improved also. This is what economists call a ‘Pareto-improving move.’ Income redistribution will make everyone better off — not just poor people — because of how all this excess choice plagues us.’”

My Comment: In any case, rational integration and redistribution (equilibration) always brings benefits to everyone—even according to the laws of economics.

Related Material:
The Economics Of Happiness
In The Zone Of Choice
Income Inequality Is Inversely Correlated With Happiness

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