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The paradox of choice: Here’s why you can’t decide what to watch on TV

3AW Mornings
Article image for The paradox of choice: Here’s why you can’t decide what to watch on TV

Anxiety generated by having to choose what TV program or movie to watch is turning something which should be enjoyable into a dreaded task.

Barry Schwartz, Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, said too much choice can be paralysing.

It’s a strange phenomenon Mr Schwartz calls ‘the paradox of choice’.

“While there’s no doubt that choice is good, there can be too much of a good thing, and when there is, instead of being liberated by all these options people become paralysed,” he told 3AW’s Tony Jones.

“If people do manage to make a choice they end up less satisfied, because they’re somehow convinced another option would have been better.”

Not everyone is affected by the choice paradox, but it’s more widespread than you may think.

“It doesn’t happen all the time. It doesn’t happen with all people, but it happens surprisingly often,” Mr Schwarz said.

Simply unsubscribing from streaming services like Netflix isn’t an easy option, either.

“Once the options are there it’s hard to pretend they’re not!,” Mr Schwartz said.

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