Does having more choice make us happier? Is there a point where too many options leave us confused or uncertain? Certainly most would agree that some level of choice makes us happier. But, in wealthy countries like the United States, have we crossed the point where the plethora of options makes us less satisfied? For even the most basic choices like what to eat- there are literally thousands of options to choose from and hundreds of microdecisions that need to be made every day. Other things like choosing investment options, picking out a salad dressing, or selecting your next travel destination have hundreds and hundreds of choices.
A paradox is simply a statement that suggests an apparent contradiction that may be true. And the paradox surrounding choice is simply that. Contrary to popular belief, we may actually be happier with fewer options. Classical economists would suggest that more options give us the opportunity to find an object that provides the absolute highest satisfaction. But in reality, we are often constrained with time and mental energy; therefore, the idea of having a limited set of options may actually make us more relaxed. In addition, when there are fewer choices, there is actually less mental energy spent thinking about what might have been or what you didn’t choose. Continue reading The Paradox of Choice