Picture yourself at a create-your-own frozen yogurt shop. You pick up a container and set out to make a glorious masterpiece. When you get to the machines, however, you realize you can’t even decide which kind of frozen yogurt you want to use as a base. Even if you do manage to get past this point, you’re going to have to somehow figure out what toppings you want to use. It’s going to take you some time to wade through all the options.
This dilemma isn’t limited to frozen yogurt. It seems like everywhere we look there are more and more options to choose from. Whether it’s deciding which color you prefer on a particular shirt or what your college major is going to be, having more options makes things more complicated.
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Complicated isn’t necessarily a negative thing, but it’s not necessarily a positive thing either. The level of complicated that multiple options present depends on the type of decision-maker you are. It also depends on what the decision pertains to.
Some people know exactly what they like and how they like it. These are people who value choice because it means their more likely to find what they’re looking for. Others have no idea what they like and aren’t even sure how to go about figuring it out. They could go either way when it comes to choices. Then you have those who like a variety of things. These individuals struggle with more options because they find many of them appealing rather than only one or two.
Regardless of what type of decision-maker you are, you’re going to have to make decisions. If you want to get anything accomplished, that it. For now, why don’t you check out two differing opinions on whether more options are a good thing or a bad thing?
The first opinion comes from Malcolm Gladwell, who speaks about choice and happiness. He’s the author of several books, including The Tipping Point, which is where the idea behind this talk originates from. I’ve read several of his books and generally enjoyed them, though I sometimes find him to be repetitive. However, if you enjoy his talk, feel free to check out his books by clicking here.
Gladwell’s talk focuses on the positive aspects of having more options. Personally, I dislike having more options, but I do see where he’s coming from. Give it a listen, and feel free to let me know what you think in the comments.
This next opinion comes from Barry Schwartz, who speaks about how too many choices paralyzes us. He’s a psychologist and the author of The Paradox of Choice, which is the basis of this talk. I’ve admittedly not read his book because I learned about him rather recently. I fully intend to do so in the near (or maybe not so near) future, though, considering how much I enjoyed listening to his opinion. If you enjoy his talk as much as I did, then feel free to check out his book. You may do so by clicking here.
Schwartz’s talk, unlike Gladwell’s, focuses on the negatives of having too many options. Personally, I’m more inclined to agree that having too many options is paralyzing. However, I know others will feel differently. Listen to what Schwartz has to say, and let me know where you stand. Or don’t; the choice is yours.