How cultures around the world make decisions
Sit down at a restaurant in France, and there’s a menu. Salmon with rice. French beans. Wine. If you ask for potatoes instead of rice, the restaurant will say no. Because it is their menu. One American model: Give me personal autonomy or give me death. “In terms of fetishizing the idea of choice, the U.S. is the absolute pinnacle,” says Barry Schwartz, professor of social theory and social change at Swarthmore College and author of The Paradox of Choice. We want to be able to choose everything that matters, as well as the things that don’t. Rice and potatoes aside, the American desire for choice has manifested in numerous ways: politically, in a demand for a voice in governance; commercially, in the demand for a variety of consumer goods and services; and spiritually, in the demand to choose and create exactly the kind of individual life, and self, you believe in. The AMerican cultural responsibility to revere choice has been Present since before America was America. Why?
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