How many boots can you count?
“choose less and feel better.”
― Barry Schwartz, The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less
Yes, Dr. Schwartz could’vent said better. On his book, “The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less”, Dr. Schwartz dissects the minutia behind the decision making machine, our brain, and the challenges that we face today, in a time and age cluttered with information, options and choices. Making a decision has never been so difficult.
What is the Paradox of Choice? According to the definition on the Cambridge English Dictionary:
a statement or situation that may be true but seems impossible or difficult to understand because it contains two opposite facts or characteristics
Following an example:
It’s a curious paradox that drinking a lot of water can often make you feel thirsty.
Going back to the Paradox of Choice, the idea is that the fact that one has so many options actually makes the exercise of choosing (anything really) a burden, a difficult tasks, leading to a cognitive fatigue due to the information overload and anxiety. All undesirable symptoms well described by Barry Schwartz.
I’ve recently went to a famous boot store in Austin, Texas and saw this myself (the boots from picture above). I thought about getting something for my wife, a nice boot perhaps. Well, with a lot of options, various colors, shapes, ornaments, and sizes this ins’t an easy task, and here we are only talking about boots. Now imagine how things can easily get complicated when we are talking about computers. By the way, I ended up leaving the store empty handed overwhelmed by the number of possibilities.
This is actually surprisingly easy to observe and you can verify this first hand during the holidays. Working in IT means that we are usually consulted for (a) when all-things-computers break or (b) when someone needs to buy/upgrade their electronics (you should be flattered buy this, because in between the lines, people are saying that they trust your judgement and that you’re serving as a consultant for them.).