Choice and balance

by Paul Burmeister

Citing the work of Professor Barry Schwartz specifically and the psychology of choice and choosing generally, William T. Cavanaugh applies research findings to a student’s process for choosing a major and a career pathway. The resulting affects and effects caused by proliferating options are known (especially where differences among them are not clear or substantive)—paralysis, anxiety, fatigue, and regret abound. One hundred different options for yogurt do not make shoppers happier in the supermarket; one hundred different options for majors do not make students happier in the academy. What is helpful is Cavanaugh’s promotion of resources: positive limitations, good habits, and formation in community. These can effectively counterbalance the coercive ideology of individual choice.