The “Tyranny” of Choice: A Re-Examination of the Prevailing Narrative

Part of the Advancing Responsible Adolescent Development book series (ARAD)


We are living in a time of choice (for some emerging and young adults more so than for others). Unprecedented affluence, in the context of an array of advances in technology, has resulted in an expansion of choice selection (Arnett, 2004, 2006; Sheena & Lepper, 2000). For example, our TV viewing patterns reinforce the possibility of limitless “on demand” choices. The supermarket experience, replete with choice, is stimulating at best, and at worst, leaves the consumer questioning his or her judgment and capacity to select the “best” for the lowest possible cost. The current college experience barrages individuals with abundance of course selections and offerings:

Today, the modern institution of higher learning offers a wide array of different “goods” and allows, even encourages, students—the “customers”—to shop around until they find what they like. Individual customers are free to “purchase” whatever bundles of knowledge they want, and the university provides whatever its customers demand .... They [students] go to a class, stay ten minutes to see what the professor is like, then walk out, often in the middle of the professor’s sentence, to try another class. Students come and go in and out of classes just as browsers go in and out of stores in a mall. “You’ve got ten minutes,” the students seem to be saying, “to show me what you’ve got. So give it your best shot.” (Schwartz, 2004, p. 16)


Young Adult Young Adulthood Personal Life Life Plan Safe Harbor 
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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

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