Psychologist Barry Schwartz Talks Risks of Too Much Choice on Colbert Report

Alisa Giardinelli

Watch: Psychologist Barry Schwartz  
Talks Risks of Too Much Choice on Colbert Report

by Alisa Giardinelli
3/05/10

Psychologist Barry Schwartz explores the social and psychological effects of free-market economic institutions on moral, social, and civic concerns. On a recent Colbert Report, he explained why people are paralyzed with indecision when they're offered too many choices.

"Freedom is the highest value in America, and more freedom means more choice," Schwartz said. "So it would seem self-evident that the more choice people have, the better off they are. But it turns out that a lot of things we hold to be self-evident aren't true."

Read Schwartz's description of the experience - and how he benefited from the Colbert bump - in the Daily Gazette.

Students in Schwartz's honors psychology seminar, Thinking, Judgment, and Decision-Making, attended the show's taping.

Ben Rachbach '11, Travis Contreras '10, Anne Tucci '10, Arielle Littles '10, and Roseanna Sommers '10
Students in Schwartz's honors psychology seminar. From left: Ben Rachbach '11, Travis Contreras '10, Anne Tucci '10, Arielle Littles '10, and Roseanna Sommers '10.

Schwartz is the Dorwin P. Cartwright Professor of Social Theory and Social Action. His books include The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less and The Costs of Living: How Market Freedom Erodes the Best Things in Life. In 2009, he gave a TED Talk in which he called for "practical wisdom" as an antidote to a society gone mad with bureaucracy.

He recently sat down with the Daily Gazette for an interview about the experience of going on the show.