Saturday, April 17, 2010

More Choice is Good, Usually

A key concept to economic libertarianism is that more choice is always welfare improving. If offered a choice between three jobs, you would choose the one that best suits. If suddenly you were offered seven more jobs, that could only lead to an improvement (because if the new offers weren't better, you'd stick with the original choice). Admittedly there are costs to making choices. This is described well by Barry Schwartz's Ted talk on The Paradox of Choice. This problem mostly exists when our subconscious emotional reason misleads us. A great example of this is a study about the increasing choices we having in dating. Their conclusion is that when faced with abundant choice, people pay less attention to hard to measure qualities and more attention to obvious characteristics. Increased choice means quicker decisions on who to date. Sadly that mean attractiveness trumps character and as I'm sure you know, the two are not correlated. Now that you know, try and compensate.

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