Philadelphia Inquirer: Swarthmore colleagues, students choose to honor an expert on choices
Having more choices can actually be a bad thing, says the research that changed psychologist Barry Schwartz's life, earning his TED Talk millions of views and turning him into someone "people all over the world . . . associate with a single important idea."
And coincidentally, Schwartz, who is preparing to retire from Swarthmore College, has made an illustrious career by sticking to just a few good choices.
He's been a professor at Swarthmore for 45 years - the only job he ever applied for, he said. He met his wife in seventh grade; they married their junior year of college. The couple never left the Philadelphia area after finishing graduate programs here in the early 1970s.
At 69, Schwartz has shaped nearly half a century of students and cemented his influential place in the field of psychology. He is retiring to spend time with his grandchildren, but otherwise would not have wanted to leave Swarthmore, a school that molded his career, he said.
"I'll be forever indebted to my colleagues," he said in an interview Friday. "I basically started my education when I got here."
His colleagues and students, in turn, feel indebted to him. On Saturday, they held an all-day symposium in Schwartz's honor on the Swarthmore campus.
More than a dozen people gave lectures about psychology and working with Schwartz, speaking with a warmth and gratitude that was a testament to his grand career.
"Barry has been a force in my life," said John Monterosso, who teaches psychology at the University of Southern California and took Schwartz's Introduction to Psychology class as a freshman in 1988. He has "really shown me a way that life can be fun and productive."