Barry Schwartz

Barry Schwartz is an American psychologist. Schwartz is the Dorwin Cartwright Professor of Social Theory and Social Action at Swarthmore College. He frequently publishes editorials in the New York Times applying his research in psychology to current events.
Read more
An eye-opening, groundbreaking tour of the purpose of work in our lives, showing how work operates in our culture and how you can find your own path to happiness in the workplace.

Why do we work? The question seems so simple. But Professor Barry Schwartz proves that the answer is surprising, complex, and urgent.

We’ve long been taught that the reason we work is primarily for a paycheck. In fact, we’ve shaped much of the infrastructure of our society to accommodate this belief. Then why are so many people dissatisfied with their work, despite healthy compensation? And why do so many people find immense fulfillment and satisfaction through “menial” jobs? Schwartz explores why so many believe that the goal for working should be to earn money, how we arrived to believe that paying workers more leads to better work, and why this has made our society confused, unhappy, and has established a dangerously misguided system.

Through fascinating studies and compelling anecdotes, this book dispels this myth. Schwartz takes us through hospitals and hair salons, auto plants and boardrooms, showing workers in all walks of life, showcasing the trends and patterns that lead to happiness in the workplace. Ultimately, Schwartz proves that the root of what drives us to do good work can rarely be incentivized, and that the cause of bad work is often an attempt to do just that.

How did we get to this tangled place? How do we change the way we work? With great insight and wisdom, Schwartz shows us how to take our first steps toward understanding, and empowering us all to find great work.
Whether we're buying a pair of jeans, ordering a cup of coffee, selecting a long-distance carrier, applying to college, choosing a doctor, or setting up a 401(k), everyday decisions—both big and small—have become increasingly complex due to the overwhelming abundance of choice with which we are presented.

As Americans, we assume that more choice means better options and greater satisfaction. But beware of excessive choice: choice overload can make you question the decisions you make before you even make them, it can set you up for unrealistically high expectations, and it can make you blame yourself for any and all failures. In the long run, this can lead to decision-making paralysis, anxiety, and perpetual stress. And, in a culture that tells us that there is no excuse for falling short of perfection when your options are limitless, too much choice can lead to clinical depression.

In The Paradox of Choice, Barry Schwartz explains at what point choice—the hallmark of individual freedom and self-determination that we so cherish—becomes detrimental to our psychological and emotional well-being. In accessible, engaging, and anecdotal prose, Schwartz shows how the dramatic explosion in choice—from the mundane to the profound challenges of balancing career, family, and individual needs—has paradoxically become a problem instead of a solution. Schwartz also shows how our obsession with choice encourages us to seek that which makes us feel worse.

By synthesizing current research in the social sciences, Schwartz makes the counter intuitive case that eliminating choices can greatly reduce the stress, anxiety, and busyness of our lives. He offers eleven practical steps on how to limit choices to a manageable number, have the discipline to focus on those that are important and ignore the rest, and ultimately derive greater satisfaction from the choices you have to make.

By the 1920s, Abraham Lincoln had transcended the lingering controversies of the Civil War to become a secular saint, honored in North and South alike for his steadfast leadership in crisis. Throughout the Great Depression and World War II, Lincoln was invoked countless times as a reminder of America’s strength and wisdom, a commanding ideal against which weary citizens could see their own hardships in perspective. But as Barry Schwartz reveals in Abraham Lincoln in the Post-Heroic Era, those years represent the apogee of Lincoln’s prestige. The decades following World War II brought radical changes to American culture, changes that led to the diminishing of all heroes—Lincoln not least among them. As Schwartz explains, growing sympathy for the plight of racial minorities, disenchantment with the American state, the lessening of patriotism in the wake of the Vietnam War, and an intensifying celebration of diversity, all contributed to a culture in which neither Lincoln nor any single person could be a heroic symbol for all Americans. Paradoxically, however, the very culture that made Lincoln an object of indifference, questioning, criticism, and even ridicule was a culture of unprecedented beneficence and inclusion, where racial, ethnic, and religious groups treated one another more fairly and justly than ever before. Thus, as the prestige of the Great Emancipator shrank, his legacy of equality continued to flourish. Drawing on a stunning range of sources—including films, cartoons, advertisements, surveys, shrine visitations, public commemorations, and more—Schwartz documents the decline of Lincoln’s public standing, asking throughout whether there is any path back from this post-heroic era. Can a new generation of Americans embrace again their epic past, including great leaders whom they know to be flawed? As the 2009 Lincoln Bicentennial approaches, readers will discover here a stirring reminder that Lincoln, as a man, still has much to say to us—about our past, our present, and our possible futures.
We all value freedom, family, friends, work, education, health, and leisure—“the best things in life.”  But the pressure we experience to chase the dollar in order to satisfy both the demands of the bottom line and the demands of our seemingly insatiable desire to consume are eroding these best things in life.  Our children now value profit centers, not sports heroes.  Our educational system is fast becoming nothing more than a financial investment where students are encouraged to expend more energy on making the grade than on learning about their world.  Our business leaders are turning young idealists into cynics when they cut corners and explain that “everybody’s doing it.”  The need to achieve in our careers intrudes so greatly on our personal world that we find ourselves weighing the “costs” of enjoying friendships rather than working.

In this book, psychologist Barry Schwartz unravels how market freedom has insidiously expanded its reach into domains where it does not belong.  He shows how this trend developed from a misguided application of the American value of individuality and self-pursuit, and how it was aided by our turning away from the basic social institutions that once offered traditional community values.  These developments have left us within an overall framework for living where worth is measured entirely by usefulness in the marketplace.  The more we allow market considerations to guide our lives, the more we will continue to incur the real costs of living, among them disappointment and loneliness.We all value freedom, family, friends, work, education, health, and leisure—“the best things in life.”  But the pressure we experience to chase the dollar in order to satisfy both the demands of the bottom line and the demands of our seemingly insatiable desire to consume are eroding these best things in life.  Our children now value profit centers, not sports heroes.  Our educational system is fast becoming nothing more than a financial investment where students are encouraged to expend more energy on making the grade than on learning about their world.  Our business leaders are turning young idealists into cynics when they cut corners and explain that “everybody’s doing it.”  The need to achieve in our careers intrudes so greatly on our personal world that we find ourselves weighing the “costs” of enjoying friendships rather than working.

In this book, psychologist Barry Schwartz unravels how market freedom has insidiously expanded its reach into domains where it does not belong.  He shows how this trend developed from a misguided application of the American value of individuality and self-pursuit, and how it was aided by our turning away from the basic social institutions that once offered traditional community values.  These developments have left us within an overall framework for living where worth is measured entirely by usefulness in the marketplace.  The more we allow market considerations to guide our lives, the more we will continue to incur the real costs of living, among them disappointment and loneliness.

©2018 GoogleSite Terms of ServicePrivacyDevelopersArtistsAbout Google|Location: United StatesLanguage: English (United States)
By purchasing this item, you are transacting with Google Payments and agreeing to the Google Payments Terms of Service and Privacy Notice.