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Personal Growth

Choice Science

Whether it’s deciding what to drink, what to wear or whom to marry, The Salon’s Thomas Rogers asks if America’s decision-obsession is always for the best.

“To most Americans the idea of an arranged marriage sounds not only bizarre, but fundamentally wrong. How could you let someone else decide the person you’re going to be spending the rest of your life with? But as Sheena Iyengar describes in her new book, ‘The Art of Choosing,’ arranged marriage has been the norm in many parts of the world for 5,000 years — including in the Sikh community in which her parents were married — and our opposition to the idea says a great deal about the ways in which culture and history have shaped the way Americans think about personal choice. Iyengar, who grew up in Sikh enclaves in New York and New Jersey, is now a professor of business at Columbia University and one of the country’s leading researchers on decision making. In ‘The Art of Choosing,’ a broad and fascinating survey of current research on the subject, Iyengar stitches together personal anecdotes, examples from popular culture, and scientific evidence to explain the complex calculus that goes into our everyday choices, from picking our favorite soda to choosing our medical insurance. She also writes about the ways in which her blindness — Iyengar lost her sight as a teenager — has given her a unique perspective on the subject.”


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