To Choose or Not to Choose, That is the Question
Where would we be in Americawithout our freedom of choice? It's a god given right. Right?
We can choose where we wantto live, providing we can afford the rent or mortgage. Choose what to wear.Choose what to eat. Choose what to drive.
All in the name of thepursuit of happiness. An unalienable right of man. According to the Declarationof Independence.
But what if our personalfreedoms weren't the key to happiness?
Scientists Hazel Rose Markusand Barry Schwartz at Stanford and Swarthmore respectively, recently released areport in the Journal of Consumer Research stating that all of that choicedoesn't necessarily buy us happiness.
"The picture presented by a half-centuryof research may present an accurate picture of the psychological importance ofchoice, freedom, and autonomy among middle-class, college-educated Americans,but this is a picture that leaves about 95 percent of the world's populationoutside its frame," say the researchers.
How could the world view ofmiddle-class college educated Americans not represent everyone else's on theplanet? Aren't we the most evolved life form?
Apparently choice can paralyze us.Make us less empathetic. Because we focus on our own choices at the expense ofthe preferences of others and of our society. Sounds pretty selfish to me. Andwe would never choose to be selfish, would we?
On the other hand, academic authorsBenjamin Scheibehenne, Rainer Greifeneder and Peter M. Todd from University ofBasel, University of Mannheim and Indiana University respectively, studied 50published and unpublished experiments that investigated choice overload. Theirmeta-analysis indicated that consumers generally respond positively to havingmany choices. They "found no empirical evidence for choice overload andsometimes even found that more choices instead facilitate choice and increasesatisfaction."Now I don't know whichstudy to choose? The one that will paralyze and depress me or the one that willincrease my satisfaction.