Russ Roberts And Barry Schwartz On Choice

Lynne Kiesling

Russ Roberts was just on NPR with Barry Schwartz, the “choice is debilitating” Swarthmore psychologist. In his gentle, intellectual, nonconfrontational way, Russ spanked him. Russ’s arguments were a powerful combination of focus on the positive and focus on the core, essential point: individuals should always ask themselves “who gets to choose for me?” Although individuals do make mistakes, we develop meta-contexts to help us deal with choice (Russ mentioned indexed mutual funds) and make those tradeoffs.

Schwartz’s last comment was a classic: “The more important the decision is, the less markets should be used to make it.”

The NPR interviewer (can’t remember who it was) also did a nice job of asking the questions; he actually almost phrased the “don’t economists think that we make better decisions collectively through markets than any one individual can?” in a close-to-Hayekian way.

I’ll post the link to it when it’s up later today.

UDPATE: Here’s the link to the audio file. Thanks to Scott Johnson for leaving it in the comments.


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