The main thrust of Iyengar’s Art of Choosing is that “choosing is a creative process, one through which we construct our environment, our lives, our selves.” She draws on findings from diverse fields-psychology, business, economics, biology, philosophy, cultural studies, public policy, and even medicine-to discuss several absorbing and interesting aspects of the Art of Choosing.
Since choice means our ability to exercise control over ourselves and our environment, we need to understand this environment and the whole range of choices that it offers. Though her parents got married in India without exercising their choice, it still worked well for them, which shows that choice is culture bound. Western culture values individualism and individual choice, but many Eastern cultures value collectivism, in which people live meaningfully more by observing duties than by following personal preferences.
Iyengar states that rapid growth of industrialisation has helped greatly in “shaping the landscape of choice,” but we need experience and knowledge to make effective choices. Quite often, people make wrong choices either because they succumb to temptations or because they do not know the things that can make them happy. When companies like Coca-Cola follow the dictum that the image is more important than product, then our choices are rigged even before we exercise them. The availability of too many options may also make us actually give up the best available options.
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