DUPLICATE Freedom, Choice, And Well-Being

Barry Schwartz, Swarthmore College


"My colleagues and I have identified several different psychological factors that help explain why increased choice can result in decreased satisfaction First, plentiful choice increases the chances that people will regret the decisions they make. This is because many of the passed-up alternatives might have turned out better than the one that was selected. Second, choice increases the sense people have of missed opportunities — opportunity costs — with respect to all the options they have foregone. Third, choice raises people’s expectations of how good the option they actually choose will be, with the result that the objective quality of the choice gets lost as it is compared with high expectations generated by the host of possibilities. And finally, increased choice forces people to take personal responsibility for all choices that turn out to be less than perfect. With so many options out there, there is no excuse for anything less than perfection, and when less than perfection is what you end up getting, the fault must be yours."