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The paradox of choice

The paradox of choice: a poor soul confronted by a giant pizza selection raises their expectations, wonders about everything they're missing, anticipates getting it wrong and then blames themselves for picking the wrong one

There's an all you can eat buffet with all the flavours of the world, you can have whatever you want. This is going to be amazing! You love lasagna, but look at those fajitas. You go for the fajitas, but then your friend arrives with sushi which looks even better. Why didn't you get that?? You always screw up...

Barry Schwartz studied how more choice not only doesn't always help us choose better, but can also make us feel worse about what we got even if it was great. Reduced satisfaction arises from:

  • The escalation of expectations
  • The opportunity cost of what we could have had and what was good about other options
  • Regret and anticipated regret of the choice we made
  • Self-blame when we think we are responsible for not doing as well as we could have

For an entertaining and educational 20 mins watch Barry Schwartz' TED talk on the paradox of choice.


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