The Art of Choosing

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“No one asks better questions, or comes up with more intriguing answers.”

–Malcolm Gladwell, author of The Tipping PointBlink, andOutliers

“Sheena Iyengar’s work on choice and how our minds deal with it has been groundbreaking, repeatedly surprising, and enormously important. She is someone we need to listen to.”

–Atul Gawande, author of Complications and Better

“An intimate, beautifully written, and deeply compelling book that examines both the art and science of making wise decisions. Choosing to read it should be the easiest choice you ever make.”

–Dan Gilbert, author of Stumbling on Happiness

A Mac store customer asks for the latest iPhone in black, but he sees everyone else buying black and suddenly changes his preference to white. When a resident of a former Communist country is offered a fizzy drink from a wide selection, he picks at random; soda is soda, he says. Though the child knows she shouldn’t press the big red button (absolutely not!), she finds her hand inching forward. A young man and woman decide to marry-knowing that the first time they meet will be on their wedding day.

How did these people make their choices? How do any of us make ours? We use choice as a powerful tool to define ourselves and mold our lives, but what do we know about the wants, motivations, biases, and influences that aid or hinder our endeavors?

In The Art of Choosing, Columbia University professor Sheena Iyengar, a leading expert on choice, sets herself the Herculean task of helping us become more effective choosers. She asks fascinating questions: Is the desire for choice innate or created by culture? Why do we sometimes choose against our best interests? How much control do we really have over what we choose? Ultimately, she offers unexpected and profound answers drawn from her award-winning, discipline-spanning research.

Here, you’ll learn about the complex relationship between choice and freedom, and why one doesn’t always go with the other. You’ll see that too much choice can overwhelm us, leading to unpleasant experiences, from ”TIVO guilt” over unwatched TV programs to confusion about health insurance plans. Perhaps most important, you’ll discover how our choices-both mundane and momentous-are shaped by many different forces, visible and invisible. This remarkable book illuminates the joys and challenges of choosing, showing us how we build our lives, one choice at a time.

THE ART OF CHOOSING is published by Twelve, an imprint of Hachette Book Group USA.

Excerpt: Can there ever be too much choice?

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