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Can Too Much Choice Be a Bad Thing?

I haven’t been blogging a lot lately, and the main reason is because I stare at that blank computer screen and I’ve got SO MUCH to say, I can’t decide what to write about first.

I’m like a mule stuck between at least twenty intriguing potential-subject haystacks, paralyzed by the sheer number of interesting things I’ve been reading and discussing, all of which I long to express in print.

None of which is happening.

It’s wonderful to have variety and selection. Who doesn’t enjoy freedom and flexibility and a cornucopia of options? Who doesn’t thrill to a banquet spread before them?

In fact,  too much choice can be absolutely stultifying.

I see this in my students all the time. I live and work in one of the most affluent areas of the country, and the kids I tutor have every sort of choice. We all believe these kids “should” be grateful for all their privileges, yet often they are paralyzed by them.

What to wear? What sports to play? What friends to hang out with? What to do with one’s free time? What music to listen to?…and, of course, those truly terrifying questions:

Where do you want to go to college? (there are over 1000 schools of higher learning here in the US)

…and if that’s not mind-boggling enough…

What do you want to be when you grow up? (Remember: You can be ANYTHING you want to be!!!)

Eek!…scary enough to make ‘ya want to escape by zoning out into your IPhone or reality TV or Facebook.

I also wonder about the choice factor in relationships. We’re constantly reminded that there are “plenty of fish in the sea,” which implies that finding our “perfect” mate is a matter of searching hard enough and making the right selection…and then discarding a flawed relationship and trading up when the going gets tough. Is this really what love and connection and commitment are about?

I love Barry Schwartz’s  TED talk  on this topic of Too Much Choice.

And, perhaps now that I’ve finally made my own choice of subject matter, I’ll be blogging more frequently!

[photo taken in Barcelona at the site of the 2002 Olympics. Those pillars appear to me like an endless array of choices]

 

Can Too Much Choice Be a Bad Thing?


Leigh Pretnar Cousins, MS

Leigh Pretnar Cousins, MS is an educator, counselor, writer and speaker. She's been a tutor, test prep coach and home school teacher for over thirty years. Click HERE to visit Leigh's website and to subscribe to her newsletter, "Learning Something New."


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APA Reference
Cousins, L. (2012). Can Too Much Choice Be a Bad Thing?. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 21, 2019, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/always-learning/2012/03/can-too-much-choice-be-a-bad-thing/

 

Last updated: 8 Mar 2012
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