What happens when we have too much choice?

This is a great and meaningful TED talk by Barry Schwarz on the paradox of choice.


In essence he concludes that the more choice we have, there is a finite point beyond which we actually become miserable and disaffected by this so-called “freedom to choose”. A kind of law of diminishing returns.
And endless choice, he avers, is paralysing. When faced with so much ‘opportunity to get just what we want’, the downside is that we blame ourselves when it doesn’t come up to expectations. And it is these levels of expectation that make the choosing so difficult, and so paralysing, because the responsibility has been handed down to us. If the product is inferior it somehow becomes our fault, because we should have (could have) made a better choice. Making decisions often degenerates into “But what if I choose the wrong thing? Why can’t this be easier?”

I remember hearing a joke years ago about a foreigner arriving in an English town, but hardly able to speak a word. He was hungry and noticed a cafe was well frequented so he went in an joined the queue. He overheard most of the customers ordering ahead of him “Cuppa tea, chunk o’ pie.” So when it was his turn he copied them and asked for “Cuppa tea, chunk o’ pie.” It duly came and he ate and enjoyed. Weeks went by and he would regularly go down to the cafe and ask for “Cuppa tea, chunk o’ pie”. After a while he grew tired of the same old fare and thought he’d try something else he’d heard asked for. Next visit it was “Egg and bacon, cup o’ coffee.” The reply was “How d’ye like yer eggs? -fried, scrambled, poached, coddled, sunny side up, hard, soft, runny. how d’ye like yer bacon? -back, streaky, rind on or off, crispy, how d’ye like yer coffee? -black, white, frothy, milky, with or without sugar…..”
He stood for a while and said “Cuppa tea, chunk o’ pie.”