Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Paradox of Choice

There is an interesting book that links research on decision making, marketing, economics and happiness. It concludes that too much choice is detrimental for "maximizers" (people that are not happy unless they choose the best option). The book argues that being "satisficer" is best (people who are happy with what they have. Hervé Humbert has pointed to the followng video lecture by the author, Alan Schwartz.
My personal take on this debate is that "Rational Schizophrenia" is the best: choose when to be a mazimizer (tasks that require a long term objective to be achieved) and when to be a satisficer (most everyday decisions not attached to a long term objective).

The Science of Happiness and Positive Psychology

Happiness has been an object of scientific study by psychologists and it is now becoming an object of study by economists as well. From the psychologist angle, a nice book that I recommend 100% is Authentic Happiness by Martin Seligman. An interesting article is Happiness 101
If you are interested in the mathematical modeling of happiness, you may want to look at the book chapter I'm writing with Rakesh Sarin, a colleague from UCLA, and available in my research web page.