I’m almost 70 years old, and it’s quite possible that people your age and younger are not bothered by this and will find a way to fix what’s bad about it. And it seems as though the first pass is always the shabbiest version.
It can easily get better., you describe how our tendency to adapt to new things often dampens our initial excitement over buying a novel item or receiving a raise at work, etc.
Does it follow that we, as a society, will simply learn to adapt to an environment filled with abundant choice?
You’d think so, but I don’t see much evidence of that. I don’t think having a lot of choice is what creates sadness and depression; I think sadness and depression happen when you combine all this choice with incredibly high standards. But you have to be careful, because something as complicated as depression doesn’t have a single cause.
In the book, for example, he explores the stress people feel when confronted with ample opportunity, and the regret that follows from choosing poorly (whose fault is it other than mine? He also discusses our loss of presence (why am I doing this when I could be doing that?
), our raised expectations (with so many options, why settle for less?
So I don’t think we can say unequivocally that too much choice is bad, because we don’t know the limits to that.
To find out more, I recently spoke with Schwartz about his book, his critics, and what has and hasn’t changed since 2004.When I read reviews while trying to decide which hotel to stay at in a place I haven’t been to before, I’m invariably more confused at the end of reading the reviews than I was at the beginning. But that’s not because these studies have no effect; almost every study has an effect.It’s just that sometimes choice is paralyzing, and sometimes it’s liberating, and we don’t know what determines which direction it’ll go in, yet.We think we understand something, and we almost always overstate what we think we understand.New work comes out and we put limits on our earlier statements.