Browse Definitions :
Definition

paradox of choice

The paradox of choice is an observation that having many options to choose from, rather than making people happy and ensuring they get what they want, can cause them stress and problematize decision-making. Barry Schwartz wrote about the negative consequences of having too many options in his 2004 book, The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less. Schwartz maintained that an overabundance of options can actually lead to anxiety, indecision, paralysis and dissatisfaction.

Intuitively, it would seem that having a large number of options should mean that people could ultimately make a choice that satisfied them. In practice, however, a large selection of items with a variety of benefits and drawbacks can make it very hard for people to choose among them. That difficulty can cause people anxiety that persists while they evaluate options and prolong the process beyond what is warranted for the situation. As a consequence, decision-making processes can become stalled (See: analysis paralysis). Furthermore, once their choices have been made, people may still cause themselves stress by worrying that they made the wrong decisions.

Schwartz discusses two styles of decision makers that were identified by psychologist Herbert A. Simon in the 1950s: maximizers and satisficers. A maximizer is someone who is driven to make the best possible choice, which may mean they have to evaluate options exhaustively and yet – paradoxically – may be less satisfied with their ultimate choice than someone who did less research. The latter term is a portmanteau created from the words satisfy and suffice. Satisficers are pragmatic individuals who are content to choose options that adequately meet their requirements – they don’t waste time overthinking their options or regretting choices that have already been made.

This was last updated in January 2019

Continue Reading About paradox of choice

SearchNetworking
  • throughput

    Throughput is a measure of how many units of information a system can process in a given amount of time.

  • traffic shaping

    Traffic shaping, also known as packet shaping, is a congestion management method that regulates network data transfer by delaying...

  • open networking

    Open networking describes a network that uses open standards and commodity hardware.

SearchSecurity
  • buffer underflow

    A buffer underflow, also known as a buffer underrun or a buffer underwrite, is when the buffer -- the temporary holding space ...

  • single sign-on (SSO)

    Single sign-on (SSO) is a session and user authentication service that permits a user to use one set of login credentials -- for ...

  • pen testing (penetration testing)

    A penetration test, also called a pen test or ethical hacking, is a cybersecurity technique that organizations use to identify, ...

SearchCIO
  • benchmark

    A benchmark is a standard or point of reference people can use to measure something else.

  • spatial computing

    Spatial computing broadly characterizes the processes and tools used to capture, process and interact with 3D data.

  • organizational goals

    Organizational goals are strategic objectives that a company's management establishes to outline expected outcomes and guide ...

SearchHRSoftware
  • talent acquisition

    Talent acquisition is the strategic process employers use to analyze their long-term talent needs in the context of business ...

  • employee retention

    Employee retention is the organizational goal of keeping productive and talented workers and reducing turnover by fostering a ...

  • hybrid work model

    A hybrid work model is a workforce structure that includes employees who work remotely and those who work on site, in a company's...

SearchCustomerExperience
Close