Is freedom of choice a good thing both at work and personally?
At every opportunity we are encouraged to compare prices, quality, value for money etc and human rights lobbyists tell us we should have freedom of choice but……is it really such a good thing both at work and personally?
In his book – the Paradox of Choice – Psychologist Barry Schwartz explores a central tenet of western societies – freedom of choice. In Schwartz’s estimation, choice has made us not freer but more paralyzed, not happier but more dissatisfied.
The average British supermarket now carries 48,750 items, and a leading supermarket brand stocks 91 different shampoos, 93 varieties of toothpaste and 115 options of household cleaners.
Coffee is no longer black or white – it is tall, short, regular, or large, skinny, decaf, flavoured, iced, spiced or frappé. Jeans are flared, bootlegged, skinny, cropped, straight, low-rise, bleach-rinsed, dark-washed or distressed. The internet has provided options beyond dreams –absolutely anything you could want.
After a training session a delegate told me her husband had supermarket phobia – he couldn’t go into a supermarket without having a panic attack. He came to see me in my capacity as a therapist and it became apparent that his issue was with the extent of the choices presented – he found it bewildering and excessive. A sparse upbringing with very limited choices, had set up a belief system that excess was bad and this was now resulting in his emotional response at the supermarket.
There are many lifestyle and workstyle choices in our existence in the 21st Century and it can be helpful to appreciate that for some, it liberates whilst for others, it debilitates.
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