More Choice, Less Satisfaction?
By Arnold Kling
Psychologist Barry Schwartz says that we may be worse off with more choice.
“As a culture, we are enamored of freedom, self-determination, and variety, and we are reluctant to give up any of our options,” he writes with characteristic directness. “But clinging tenaciously to all the choices available to us contributes to bad decisions, to anxiety, stress, and dissatisfaction – even to clinical depression.”
As someone who often brings home the “wrong” chocolate chips from the grocery store, I can relate to the examples in the article. However, the argument against choice runs up against the following problem: which choices would you eliminate in order to make people happier?
Still, I think there is something to the point that our economy sometimes just shows people what they cannot have. I wrote an essay that describes Las Vegas in those terms.
For Discussion. How does the theory of monopolistic competition explain the profusion of choice (in breakfast cereals, for example)?