Browse Definitions :
Definition

paradox of choice

The paradox of choice is an observation that having many options to choose from, rather than making people happy and ensuring they get what they want, can cause them stress and problematize decision-making. Barry Schwartz wrote about the negative consequences of having too many options in his 2004 book, The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less. Schwartz maintained that an overabundance of options can actually lead to anxiety, indecision, paralysis and dissatisfaction.

Intuitively, it would seem that having a large number of options should mean that people could ultimately make a choice that satisfied them. In practice, however, a large selection of items with a variety of benefits and drawbacks can make it very hard for people to choose among them. That difficulty can cause people anxiety that persists while they evaluate options and prolong the process beyond what is warranted for the situation. As a consequence, decision-making processes can become stalled (See: analysis paralysis). Furthermore, once their choices have been made, people may still cause themselves stress by worrying that they made the wrong decisions.

Schwartz discusses two styles of decision makers that were identified by psychologist Herbert A. Simon in the 1950s: maximizers and satisficers. A maximizer is someone who is driven to make the best possible choice, which may mean they have to evaluate options exhaustively and yet – paradoxically – may be less satisfied with their ultimate choice than someone who did less research. The latter term is a portmanteau created from the words satisfy and suffice. Satisficers are pragmatic individuals who are content to choose options that adequately meet their requirements – they don’t waste time overthinking their options or regretting choices that have already been made.

This was last updated in January 2019

Continue Reading About paradox of choice

SearchCompliance
  • smart contract

    A smart contract is a decentralized application that executes business logic in response to events.

  • compliance risk

    Compliance risk is an organization's potential exposure to legal penalties, financial forfeiture and material loss, resulting ...

  • information governance

    Information governance is a holistic approach to managing corporate information by implementing processes, roles, controls and ...

SearchSecurity
  • threat modeling

    Threat modeling is a procedure for optimizing application, system or business process security by identifying objectives and ...

  • social engineering

    Social engineering is an attack vector that relies heavily on human interaction and often involves manipulating people into ...

  • distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack

    A distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack is one in which multiple compromised computer systems attack a target, such as a ...

SearchHealthIT
SearchDisasterRecovery
  • change control

    Change control is a systematic approach to managing all changes made to a product or system.

  • disaster recovery (DR)

    Disaster recovery (DR) is an organization's ability to respond to and recover from an event that affects business operations.

  • risk mitigation

    Risk mitigation is a strategy to prepare for and lessen the effects of threats faced by a business.

SearchStorage
  • storage security

    Storage security is the group of parameters and settings that make storage resources available to authorized users and trusted ...

  • cloud storage

    Cloud storage is a service model in which data is transmitted and stored on remote storage systems, where it is maintained, ...

  • cloud data management

    Cloud data management is a way to manage data across cloud platforms, either with or instead of on-premises storage.

Close