TED Conversations

Gisela McKay

President and Co-Founder, pixcode


This conversation is closed.

On choice paralysis: Most people have no taste and thus cannot make a decision on their own

EDIT: Please note, this is in Debates. I fully expect people to argue against the premise -- which is that we do _not_ need less choice. Watch the videos, at least the Sheena Iyengar one to know what this is about.


I have observed, as a foodie (and as a supertaster - which sounds like a magic power but actually kinda sucks) that most people really only seem have taste buds so they can tell when milk is bad.

When I say things like "this wine has notes of rosemary" they seem to either think I am just being a pretentious twit (and making it up), or they nod agreeably but you can tell they have no idea what you are talking about.

(Since foodies tend to cluster, I have plenty of friends who can detect these things).

They go to restaurants because someone else told them it was the place to go, and they order dishes that someone else recommended, but the nuances, really are lost. (This is the only thing I can think of that explains things like Pizza Hut, which has possibly the worst tasting sauce on the planet.)

This lack of actual preference/ability to discern extends then to purchasing things that other people desire: They are simply substituting direct happiness with the object itself with happiness in having caused envy or in feeling successful at having been able to purchase the desirable object. (Or at least not feeling failure at having picked the "wrong" thing.)

These are the people paralyzed by choice. (They are also unduly influenced by advertising.)

People who can actually detect intrinsic value are not thus paralyzed (nor, I suspect, are sociopaths who do not actually have an emotional tie to the outcome, which would explain the number of them in high-ranking positions -- they can make the expedient choice without the paralysis).


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • Feb 1 2012: It does offer an explanation-- our two-party political system in the US clearly a manufactured choice. It is this appearance of democracy that goes a long way towards appeasing the outrage that we've seen behind the Arab Spring uprisings.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.