choice — what a terrible thing?

June 27, 2008 at 4:39 pm | Posted in Professional Development | 2 Comments

Psychologist Barry Schwartz takes aim at a central tenet of western societies: freedom of choice.  It is an interesting position with which I agree now that we are raising three kids.  Give them too many choices, and it overloads them.  You can see it plain as day in kids.  I doubt we adults are much different, other than we have learned how to mask it better.

There is one thing in Schwartz’s video that stood out to me: the regret that exists after choosing something when so many choices were in front of you.  I see this in software development all the time.  It’s so easy to look back and play the “if only we had…” game.

So on the front end, you’ve got potential “analysis paralysis” with all the choices, and on the back end you’ve got regret.  Sigh.  Maybe at a subconscious level, that’s why I bought a Mac!



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  1. Good topic. I’m a firm believer that the easiest decisions are the ones where the choices are few and the implications and risks of them are clear. There’s a skill to eliminating choices from consideration to reduce that sense of overload. Part of this must come from applying situational experience, hence the observed difference between kids and (some) adults.

    There is also a corrolary to the software development world beyond the sense of regret you cited. It also applies to product design. Too many choices can also hurt the user experience and the perception of a product. The easy thing to do is put every possible feature and configuration option into a product. Unfortunately this is all too common. Making things simpler for a customer – taking away choices/options – is incredibly difficult and actually takes guts.

  2. […] pm | In Uncategorized | Tags: apple, dvd ripping, mac, software, technology In commenting on my post about choice (thanks to EGM for that video, btw), kbarrette said: There’s a skill to eliminating […]

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