Spoilt for choice? By Emily Drake-Knight
You finally decide to take a long-awaited family holiday, you pick a date, tentatively negotiate the time off work and choose a location that seems to tick all the boxes.
All you need to do is pick a hotel and you’re set. So, you head to a comparison site and, in an instant, hundreds of options pop up. With so much choice you’ll surely be able to find something incredible. You click on the first hotel that catches your eye, it’s the right price, a good location and it’s got 4.5 stars on Tripadvisor. You could book it straight away…but there are hundreds of other options, so maybe you should take a look just in case there’s something better. Three hours and 82 open tabs later you give up and slam the laptop shut.
And it’s not just holidays. As a teenager I might’ve made a Saturday morning trip to Newport if I needed to buy a new outfit and after a couple of hours in New Look and Tammy Girl the job would be done. Now, I can spend weeks worth of evenings browsing multiple online stores to find a new dress and even when I’ve found the ‘perfect’ one I will continue to browse just in case there’s something better. The more choice I have, the less satisfied I often am with my decision.
In his book, The Paradox Of Choice, Barry Schwartz suggests that an abundance of choice actually creates paralysis rather than freedom. I see it in my own decision making and already the kids grappling with it, too. The only decision I had to make before school as a child was whether to have Weetabix or Cornflakes for breakfast (Weetabix obviously, Cornflakes are THE worst). Now, my sons are presented with an array of breakfast options, before being asked whether they want to wear a jumper or cardigan, which fruit they’d like for break and whether they’d like to walk, scoot or bike to school and this is all before 8.30am. While I had thought offering them choice would liberate them, perhaps I’m just creating unnecessary anxiety?
Without turning total dictator, maybe it’s time I reined in the choices and let them enjoy the comfort of a parent making good choices for them? If it allows them to be carefree for longer it’s got to be worth a try, although you can bet they’ll ask for toast if I ‘tell’ them they’re having cereal!
“In his book, The Paradox Of Choice, Barry Schwartz suggests that an abundance of choice actually creates paralysis rather than freedom”