Sheena Iyengar

Monday, March 08, 2010

Sheena Iyengar, Columbia University professor and author of The Art of Choosing, offers surprising insights into "choice" and how too many options can be as bad as too few.


Sheena Iyengar

Comments [10]

Adam Pjhillips from New York City

Trying to listen to Sheena Iyengar but it goes to Annie Leonard, not Iyengar.

Mar. 14 2010 08:21 PM
Yes, yeah. from Brooklyn, NY

@Dennis from Manhattan

You would crumble if you had to deal with it monthly. Really, you have the light side of the obligation/duty.

Mar. 08 2010 01:06 PM
Marcos from the Bronx

Perhaps this culture is so focused on individual freedom, because collectively we do not have very much choice or freedom at all. If one party states are nearly completely undemocratic as, most people accept, then our two party state is only twice as a one party state. 2 times 0 is O. Parlimentary systems, or instant runoff voting, and many other models offer more choice in other societies.

And really: Walmart equals choice?

Come on...Not if you are examining what meaningful choices are availiable. When Walmarts have caused dozens of main street stores to disapear, and where it is the only place many people feel they can afford to shop because the real earning power of working people has dropped tremendously in this country, I don't think Walmart offering 100,000 products made under oppressive conditions in China represents meaningful choice.

To make this segment interesting you needed a guest offering more of a counter argument as well.

Mar. 08 2010 12:00 PM

"Choice" and "Freedom" are not always interchangeable ideas.

Mar. 08 2010 11:46 AM
RCT from NYC

All four of my grandparents immigrated from southern Italy. I grew up in Brooklyn, in what is now a gentrified area known as Carroll Gardens, but was then a very traditional, Italian neighborhood. My parents wanted my sister and me to obtain an education, but did not realize that, in doing so, we would reject many of their values and traditions.

I graduated from high school at age sixteen. Although I had won a Regents Scholarship, my parents would not allow me to "leave home" to attend Barnard, my school of choice, so I enrolled at Brooklyn College When, at age 20, I left home to share an apartment with a fellow student, my parents were horrified.

My aunt later told me that my leaving home before marriage -- the first woman in my family to do so -- devastated my mother, who viwewed what I saw as a rite of passage to adulthood, as a rejection of her and my family. When I enrolled in graduate school -- at Columbia -- my mother wondered whether the ivy league degree was "worth" the tuition. I know that she found elite America foreign and scary.

It took years for my family to accept me as who I am, and for me to understand their suspicions regarding my life style. I know have a good relationship with my family -- my parents are gone -- and do not regret that I chose a "different" path.

Mar. 08 2010 11:41 AM
ramatu from Brooklyn

in the west african american community in the dc area i grew up in, we had lots of obligations that tell us how to take care of one another that often felt like a minimizing of choice. moving to new york where that community is a little further away i realize how much harder life is when i can't simply expect the support of my community members.

choice in the u.s. is based on the omnipotence of the human being, meaning you can take care of everything on your own. this is myth. we need people and what made the community i lived in work was the sense that both the young and old and everyone in between was taken care of.

Mar. 08 2010 11:41 AM
Dennis from Manhattan

Too much choice! Trying having to buy feminine napkins for your wife!

Mar. 08 2010 11:39 AM
Uos from Queens

Too much freedom? Those people are crazy.. seriously.

Mar. 08 2010 11:34 AM
James Hellmens from New York

I think people need a choice in teachers..

Get rid of underperforming teachers...

You dont need choice in buildings..

Mar. 08 2010 11:23 AM

Oh so true. In programming there is a saying "The smaller the difference the bigger the fight". Basically when you have a bunch of tools that are all almost the same people have to go to extremes to justify their choice. For systems programming it's obvious when you should use say C++ or Java, no one will argue it. But for scripting languages people will fight over Perl, Python, Ruby and other obscure languages but ultimately they all have the same functionality and it's basically a matter of style. Same with choosing Linux distributions. People argue this to no end but really Linux distros have probably 97% the same software anyways the only real difference are the package management and release schedules. Too much choice can be counter-productive. It's always good to have competition but it only takes two or three to compete you don't need a dozen choices.

Mar. 08 2010 07:01 AM

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