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Choice overload

May 18th, 2005 · No Comments

In a recent post on her blog Learned on Women, Andrea Learned quoted from The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less by Barry Schwartz:

“When people have no choice, life is almost unbearable. As
the number of available choices increases, as it has in our consumer
culture, the autonomy, control, and liberation this variety brings are
powerful and positive. But as the number of choices keeps growing, negative aspects of having a multitude of options begin to appear. As the number of choices grows further, the negatives escalate until we become overloaded. At this point, choice no longer liberates, it debilitates.”

As women who are operating on overdrive most of the time with our many roles and responsibilities, it often feels like all we ever do is make decisions!  I for one, sometimes long for someone else to make the decisions for today, for the next hour, even just the one that is required this minute!  If there werent so many things to chose from, would it be easier?  Less stressful?

Take gift shopping, or appliance shopping, or shopping for a new handbag… can you go into a store, select from the range available right there, purchase, leave and be happy that you made the right decision?  Or do you go from boutique to department store and back again, comparison shopping even the little things… afraid to make the wrong choice? 

Shopping on the internet has certainly aided our decision making some… we dont wear out our shoes traipsing around doing the comparison shop… but time on the internet seems to balloon in direct proportion to the amount of sites selling the thing we are looking to purchase.

Something to be said for having your favourite stores and sites, and just sticking to them when you are shopping for results.  Of course, if you are shopping for the sheer pleasure of shopping (no objective in mind, just looking…) it’s a whole different ballgame :o )

I have only talked about shopping here, but of course we are overloaded with choices about so much in our lives these days.  The world is literally at our feet.  So how come we freeze up, how come we cannot choose for fear of making the wrong choice?  And is this no-man’s-land of not being able to make a choice, a choice in itself?  What do you think?  What are your biggest choice decisions at the moment?

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