Aug 19, 2010

How Much Is Too Much?

Turns out, Robert is more impulsive than Jad, and Jad is more analytical than Robert. Shocking, right? Sadly for Jad, Robert's style may help him better navigate the overwhelming number of choices available throughout modern life's expanse of options, which may also lead him to a greater sense of well-being, according to psychologist Barry Schwartz. Jonah Lehrer helps us understand why by introducing us to George Miller's classic paper "The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two," which explains the ability of the average human to hold about seven pieces of discreet information in working memory at any given time. Any more than that, and, as researcher Baba Shiv demonstrates, our good judgment can be overwhelmed...a problem Oliver Sacks overcomes by allowing himself only limited options and a strict routine.

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