Personal Finance | First Published August 16, 2020

Choiceology: Season 6 Episode 2

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While having a myriad of options is a privilege consumers increasingly expect, too much choice often leads to dissatisfaction and regret.

Traditional economic theory says that more choice should always be better than less. After all, if the cereal aisle has corn flakes, honey nut corn flakes, toasted coconut corn flakes, chocolate corn flakes, multi-grain flakes, and all the rest, you’ll surely be able to find the breakfast carbs that suit your taste buds perfectly. But it turns out that, in certain situations, more choices can be counterproductive.

In this episode of Choiceology with Katy Milkman, we look at how having too many options can sometimes produce anxiety, reduce satisfaction, and even lead us to abandon the decision we’d planned to make altogether.

You’ll hear from professional bridesmaid (yes, that’s a real thing) Jen Glantz about her experiences supporting brides through the many decisions they face in planning a wedding. Jen has seen it all: the fatigue, the indecision, the anxiety, and the emotional toll that can result from managing myriad choices while planning the big day.

Jen, herself, is now engaged to be married. But rather than subject herself to that giant list of wedding day choices, she has come up with a clever plan to offload the decision-making effort.

Jen Glantz runs Bridesmaid for Hire and is based in Brooklyn, New York. 

Barry Schwartz is an academic authority on this phenomenon. His book The Paradox of Choice challenged traditional economic theory about the utility of ever-expanding options in prosperous societies.

Barry joins Katy to explain where choice overload occurs, and where it doesn’t, and to discuss the benefits of satisficing when it comes to choosing televisions or restaurants or blue jeans.

Barry Schwartz is the Dorwin P. Cartwright Professor Emeritus of Social Theory and Social Action at Swarthmore College.

Choiceology is an original podcast from Charles Schwab.

If you enjoy the show, please leave a rating or review on Apple Podcasts.