Variety is the spice of life, but is there such a thing as too much choice? According to a recent study (slated for publication), the endless array of options for everything from diet to schools to careers can paralyze us with indecision. And once we finally make a choice we often regret our decision, wondering if, given all the other possibilities, it was truly the best one. To make matters worse, this navel-gazing can lead to selfishness, as we become obsessed with ourselves, and what our decisions say about who we are. As the study’s author, Hazel Rose Markus, a psychology professor at Stanford University, explains: “The enormous opportunity for growth and self-advancement that flows from unlimited freedom of choice may diminish rather than enhance subjective well-being.” The paralysis of choice, however, is somewhat of a bourgeois pickle: the study found that non-Westerners and working class Westerners don’t put the same emphasis on having an abundance of choice as the middle and upper classes.
In defense of the simple life
Why too many choices may cause more harm than good