The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz

Rating: 6/10

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High-Level Thoughts

This is an excellent book for someone who is new to cognitive biases and heuristics and who wants to improve their decision making. I didn’t get much out of it since I already knew a lot of it, but if you’re just getting into the topic it’s a good place to start.

Summary Notes

The majority of people want more control over their lives, but they also want to simplify their lives.

Peak End Effect:We most remember how experiences felt at their peaks, and how they felt at the end.

Our predictions about how we will feel during an experience, and our memories of how we did feel, both tend to be innacurate.

Loss Aversion: We weigh losses as much as twice as much as gains. We care more about not losing $50 than earning $100.

Having more options and opportunities has three bad effects:

  1. Decisions require more effort
  2. Mistaks are more likely
  3. It makes the psychological consequences of mistakes greater

A maximizer tries to find the absolute best option, a satisficer finds one that’s good enough. Trying to maximize all the time is a recipe for unhappiness.

Creating rules and “second order decisions” is a great way to limit your decision making.

We tend to think we want choices, but once we have them, we want someone else to decide for us.

We can experience “anticipated regret” before even making a decision by worrying about what we might end up regretting as a result of the choice we make.

In the short term we regret failures in how we acted, but in the long term we regret the times when we didn’t act . What action will you regret not taking?

What we can do:

To manage our energy and make better decisions, we need to analyze where we can reduce decision making in our lives using rules and systems so we can focus on what matters.

Try to be a satisficer whenever possible, only maximize on the things that REALLY matter.

Don’t worry about opportunity cost too much. Stick to things you always buy, avoid “new and improved,” don’t scratch unless there’s an itch, and remember that you can never take advantage of every single opportunity in the world so stop trying to find all of them.

Make your decisions non-reversible.

Add a gratefulness practice to your life to remind you of what you already have.

Anticipate adaptation, recognize that you’re going to get used to things quickly so don’t expect that any purchase or change will have a lasting impact on your happiness.

Reduce your social comparison by not caring how your stack against your peers.

Create constraints wherever possible.

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