The paradox of choice

This book by Barry Schwarz was the topic of discussion for the Innovation Reading Circle on 8 October at the Channel 4 offices in London. The subtitle of the book is ‘Why less is more – How the culture of abundance robs us of satisfaction’. Using many examples from psychology studies, Schwarz describes how consumers are nowadays so swamped by consumption choices that it may keep them in limbo over silly details. They get frustrated, disappointed, anxious and generally unhappy. He blames the consumerist society for the increased percentage of depressed people in the US.

Picture_1 Although the descriptions of the various psychological concepts are very interesting (e.g. maximizers vs, satisficers, and downward vs. upward counterfactual thinking), the overall thesis of the book is a bit weak. Schwarz does not refer to any other circumstances than personality traits to explain the complexity of consumer decision making. What about the influence of product category involvement, or the influence of specific service situations? With his urge to make a connection to the depression index in the US, Schwarz seems to jump to an over-simplified solution of psychological self-help guidelines for how to cope with abundant choice. This is a shame, because the topic of consumer choice in complex environments with abundant options is an interesting one and worth the effort to reflect on. The book sparked a lively debate during this meeting of the Reading Circle.

How to not become (too) cynical

As design researchers at STBY we are dealing with lots of complex issues and data. We are diving into root causes, problem areas and, luckily, also…

Where do you live on Dollar Street?

Are you bamboozled by the daily pandemic statistics of your country? Or have you even tuned out? These numbers are designed to be super clear, and…

Beyond Human Centred Design

COVID19 has given the world the time to rest, and the opportunity for us to rethink the way we live. It has also revealed how inseparable we are with…

Let’s Talk Maps and Mapping

Interested in mapping services, ecosystems, stakeholders and beyond? Join us as we explore how other disciplines approach mapping and what we can take away as design researchers and service designers.

The Subspecies of Design Researcher

As a design research agency, STBY has worked with design researchers of many shapes and sizes. While the role of ‘design researcher’ becomes more common and recognised as a formal position in many different types of organisations, it’s worth reflecting on how we all work and the unique skills and attitudes needed in different settings.

GOOD is coming to London again!

As the founder and partner of REACH network, STBY is happy to announce that following on the success of previous related events around the world,…