The Tyranny of Choice by Barry Schwartz

The Tyranny of Choice: An Analysis of Barry Schwartz's Article

The Tyranny of Choice, a detailed article by Barry Schwartz, aptly illustrates how having too many options to choose from frequently leaves a consumer feeling confused while making a decision as well as dissatisfied even after doing so. The author successfully persuades the audience into accepting his point of view by primarily using rhetorical pleas like pathos, logos, and ethos, according to some.

Logos: Rational Arguments for Limited Options

First of all, Barry Schwartz heavily uses logos in the piece. In order to persuade the audience, logos primarily involves appealing to logic. By extensively and rationally explaining how the too many options for products in the modern market have caused end users to have difficult times while making choices, the audience gets to comprehend the author's argument clearly. More importantly, Schwartz cites a number of verified studies that purport that consumers are usually less likely to purchase a product when divided between too many options. One of the most prominent case studies cited in the article is that of the 401k plans; it was noted that as more fund choices were availed by companies offering conforming 401k plans, the lower the number of people who actually opted for any funds, even though it implied foregoing "free" money (Schwartz, 2004).

Pathos: Emotional Impact of Decision-Making Overload

More so, the apt use of pathos effectively appeals to the feelings of the readers as it makes it very blatant how having to choose between too many alternatives can be very exhaustive. According to the author, there is a group of consumers, identified as "maximizers" who when offered options, tend to thoroughly go through all the alternatives, seeking all the available information, so as to settle on the best possible alternative (Schwartz, 2004). This demeanor basically consumes a lot of valuable time, and typically causes nagging doubts, particularly in instances where the final decision made was not very clear. In addition to the effects of choice paralysis, the author also makes it apparent that abundant variety characteristically causes consumers to make worse decisions since people usually try to simplify the whole choosing process to extents when the entire simplification hinders their capability to make the best possible choice. By connecting to the emotions of the audience, the writer successfully illustrates the too many choices in the contemporary market have become a misery.

Ethos: Credibility and Expert Opinions

Another rhetorical device largely used by Schwartz to successfully convey the message of his article to the readers is ethos. The author clearly shows the credibility of his findings which imply that many people usually end up unhappy rather than satisfied when their array of options is expanded. Schwartz makes it clear that he collaborated with his colleagues (a group of highly experienced scholars and intellects) in conducting the research. More so, the author cites appraised works by social scientists such as David G. Myers and Robert E. Lane who affirmed that increased choices as well as affluence, as a matter of fact, have been associated with decreased wellbeing in the United States alongside other affluent societies (Fasolo, McClelland and Todd, 2007). Furthermore, the author uses the terminology "satisficers" that was coined by Herbert A. Simon, the late Nobel Prize-winning economist and psychologist, who had done extensive works concerning consumer behavior in convincing readers about the happiness associated with eliminating instances that entail a lot of decision-making.

Conclusion: Simplifying Choices for Consumer Wellbeing

In summary, Schwartz urges that market stakeholders consider cutting down on diversification of products so as to give consumers easy time in making decisions. Even though that might not be a popular opinion among market stakeholders, the rhetorical devices used in the article are effective in convincing readers otherwise. The article convinces the audience to always have standards to live-by instead of the rigidly enforced norms by higher authorities.


Schwartz, B. (2004). The tyranny of choice. Scientific American Mind, 14(5), 44-49.

Fasolo, B., McClelland, G. H., & Todd, P. M. (2007). Escaping the tyranny of choice: When fewer attributes make choice easier. Marketing Theory, 7(1), 13-26.

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