September 24, 2009 – Consumption and consumers

Discussion Leaders:

  • M — Felicia Holzgrefe; Laura Dick
  • O — Edmund Brown; Maggie Kem

Malcolm Gladwell on Spaghetti Sauce:

Additional Required Reading:

The Ketchup Conundrum:

Foreward to Ideavirus:

Barry Schwartz Paradox of Choice:

Optional for O’Donnell, required for McClurken:

Joseph Pine on What consumers want:

For discussion, O’Donnell: and Panisse King Site in Point Adidas. All day I dream about Shoes. Transforming Subjectivity Facebook, a streamlined tradition Grey Poupon an Advertisement to destroy the Free Market Indie Mustard, but not really Best Condiment

Link refusing to show up:

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  • I hope everyone enjoys the videos. To help us out, could you each write the name of your professor in your reply so we can address specific topics in class?


  • Malcolm Gladwell’s talk was on spaghetti sauce and how it is a good thing that individual’s have the ability to make their own choice. He talked about choice as a good thing. On the other hand, Barry Schwartz spoke about the paradox of choice. He mentioned that life is a matter of choice. He asked us a question, whether this was good new or bad news. He believes that having so many options and being able to choose and make decisions in life is a bad thing. Barry Schwartz said that it is bad news because it can lead to paralysis. He thinks that it is too difficult to ever make a decision when you have the ability to make your own decision by choosing from options. He felt strongly that by having more options, it is easier for a person to regret his/her decision later on. I disagree with Barry Schwartz’s point of view. Part of who I am and what I believe in is that I make my own decisions in life. The path I follow is the one I create through the actions, choices, and decisions I make. By having choices and the ability to make my own decision, I can’t blame anyone other than myself for the mistakes I make. If the decision I make is a good one, then I can be proud of myself without feeling like it was someone else telling me what to do and they should get the credit. At the end of the day, I like to think that where I am at in life isn’t because someone told me what to do or decide, but because I chose it. At the end of the day, I am responsible for myself and I think every individual should be. In order to grow up and be responsible and say that you lived the life you wanted, you have to be able to make your own decisions. Otherwise, you’ll never really know what you want, what you like, who you are, what’s right and wrong, etc.

  • McClurken
    The video on Malcolm Gladwell was interesting because the producer mindset was not the greatest, and once they switched it, they gained great success. I like how bold he is with his ideas in that we don’t necessarily realize.
    The video with Joseph Pine was not visually exciting to me. However,I did find it interesting that he brought up Starbucks and told us the value of a single coffee bean, then the value of the same beans when it was packaged, processed, and ground up, and then put on grocery store shelves. A good, versus a commodity.
    I like the ideas of Barry Schwartz because he says that you have to be your own person and make your own decision to be your own person, not be influence by your surroundings.

  • To frame the O’Donnell conversation:
    We will focus on who is right, Gladwell or Schwartz. Do consumers know what they want? Do more choices lead to a happier population, or a stagnant one? Unfortunately, the side I am standing against is the intuitive side; the one advocating more choice. I will show why artistically choice is worse, and why choice is less efficient.
    The second main discussion will focus on advertisements. Should they be allowed to lie? Should they be allowed at all? Here, we will discuss a bit of free market theory and why advertising may be the downfall of Adam Smith.
    Hope you like ketchup.

  • Although this subject doesn’t interest me much I thought the talks were pretty good.

    Malcolm Gladwell’s talk on spagetti sauce told how choice was a positive thing and that having many different choices or variety is also good. I really enjoyed this talk and thought the example he used was interesting.

    Barry Schwartz, contradictingly, said that life is matter of choice, and asked the audience to decide whether this is a good or bad thing. I think that having many choices is a good thing, unlike Schwartz. I feel like choices make us who we are, and without a variety then everyone would be on the same path in life, going the same direction. I agree with Kelsey’s point about our decisions and mistakes make us who we are, and I don’t think Schwartz made a legitimate point. Everyone is influenced by their surroundings, whether he wants to admit it or not. I feel like without these choices in life, there is no point. Living an easy life would not be as exciting.

    O’donnell- Ashlee Sisson

  • McClurken:

    I liked Joseph Pine’s speech about authenticity and the true price of certain consumer goods. When he explained that one single bean was worth only a few cents but after packaging, grinding and putting on a shelf it can double in price and then when being served an actual coffee drink they can charge up to $5! It’s crazy to me how that works. I also agree with his point about price. I would always think the lower the price, the cheaper the quality of something is, or that it’s more poorly made or produced and that it’s not as good as more expensive items. If things could all be made the same way why wouldn’t everything be made as good as possible and every brand, etc. and be the same price. Things aren’t that simple though, as Malcolm Gladwell explained, everyone needs to have the choice. The choice between cheap or expensive, chunky or traditional, dark blend or milky. That being able to supple your customer with a choice makes them more satisfied with the producer and their products.

    I agree with the “ketchup conundrum” article that if you were to put a fancy label on something and advertise it as something that wealthy people eat or celebrities use then the product all the sudden becomes more satisfying with the customer. And that way they can raise their prices as well.

  • These videos used for this topic were unexpected especially Barry Schwartz Paradox of Choice. When you think about consumption and consumers you don’t think choice. When in reality it has everything to do with choice. It goes from what brand of bread will you buy to what type of computer will you buy; Dell or Mac, white or wheat. A point brought up in this video was that people will choose less if there are more options, which is true. If you went into a supermarket and there were one hundred types of bread you wouldn’t choose some obscure type made in Germany. You would choose something familiar to you or not choose at all.
    This example can be taken in a different way with reference to the Joseph Pine video. Consumers go for an experience. If this German bread and the normal everyday bread you are used to were both served at a German restaurant people would obviously get the German bread for the experience.

  • (McClurken)
    I actually found Malcolm Gladwell’s talk to be very interesting, you know, after I got over his hair. His story was entertaining and informative. It was also very easy to understand his point, there is not one perfect product for everyone, but there are many perfect products so everyone can be happy. I also enjoyed Schwarts’ talk about choice. I agree that choice can bring freedom and happiness but too many choices can make you regret the choice you did make even if it was a good choice. The whole video was about choice and I kept waiting for him to get to the point about why he was wearing high socks, short shorts, and a t-shirt with a breast pocket. He never did. But odd wardrobe aside his talk was very interesting. I was not too fond of the last talk it didn’t seem that pine was really working to get to any specific conclusion he was sort of rambling. I found it hard to pay attention to, and rather boring. The readings were ok, I didn’t feel like they contributed anything to the talks. The ketchup story was almost the same as the Grey Poupon and the spaghetti sauce one combined. Then the spaghetti sauce story in the reading was the same as Gladwell’s talk, almost verbatim.
    This concludes my comment for this section. Thank you and Good Night. ( i thought it’d be cool to have a sign off)

  • I thought both of the talks were interesting, and I liked how two different opinions on choice were chosen to be the talks. While Malcolm Galdwell viewed choice in a positive manner, Barry Schwartz seemed more skeptical on choice. However, I believe Barry Schwartz had the more effective talk. It made me think of the choices that I did not even know I was making. For example, he states we even choose our identity. I believe that is true, as we all wear “masks” and we behave differently in front of friends, family, and co-workers. We choose our identity to fit in with the people we are with at the moment. I also agree that many choices lead to less satisfaction. While it is good to have choices, I believe that people do have higher expectations when they choose one specific product over the other. Hopefully, these talks will lead into an interesting debate in class.
    –Stacey Peros

  • McClurken

    Well these videos have given me a lot to think about when it comes to choice. As a consumer I feel like I waist so much time in a store trying to pick which I exactly want, and then just like Schwartz said, I am unhappy with my choice because I think about all the other things I could have picked and how much better off I would be with them. I am pretty indecisive when it comes to trying to pick either something to do or what to buy and it seems the more choice I am given the longer it takes me to pick and how much more unhappy I am with said choice.
    I think sellers can learn a lot from how important advertising is and how you present yourself to the customer. If you put a fancy label on it and charge more for it the consumer is going to assume it is the better choice – and therefore when they buy it they will be much more satisfied with it.
    I don’t really understand how Pine came to his conclusion about experience becoming the new service, but I can definitely see how this is true. He got really confusing however when he started going into real fake and fake fake and real real nonsense and I couldn’t really keep up- but how true is it that Starbucks charges ridiculous amounts of money just for the atmosphere or the brand itself, and people buy into it. Starbucks coffee isn’t even good quality of coffee but people love it so much because of the special stuff they add to the coffee and the fact that its Starbucks.
    Good job picking guys- and good luck tomorrow.

  • After watching these videos I decided to go over to the actual and see what other people had to say about these videos, just to get a different look at it rather than from freshman college students and as it turns out, I feel like we have more ‘discussion sparking’ comments, and I’m sure that has to do with the fact that we are comparing two different videos so a stand is more often than not gonna be taken.

    That said, even though these videos are each leaving us with a different message I still came away liking things from both videos.

    I found it intersting in Gladwells talk when he says that we need to be ourselves and be able to make our own choices because I believe the choices we make mold us into who we are, even if we do make bad choices sometimes because that helps us learn. Also I enjoyed when he started talking about mustard and grey poupon because I agree with him that people will often times choose to buy something just because it is more expensive or because of the label that it has on it.

    I again found interest in Schwartz’s talk when he said that having too many choices is often times a bad thing. Initially you may want to disagree but what he said to us, through comics, does make sense. How many times have you had multiple things to choose from and after you picked you thought to yourself ‘shit, shoulda chose the other one.’ And we all know that the grass is always greener as illusttrated through the comic with the guy at the beach saying that himself that he would be able to get a parking space right in front of the building so I do agree with him that too many choices leave us wanting something else, but that may just be how society works nowadays.

    I think this will be a very good talk tomorrow.

  • I like the idea of having different varieties of choices. With more on the plate it’s easier for us to decide what interests us. The narrower the choices, the more pressured people feel in making a decision. You shouldn’t be forced to make the choice that someone else wants. Choice is for every individual to decide. Living a life with decisions and choices already made for you is not for me.

    I agree with Gladwell in the idea of having many choices is a good thing. It was interesting on how spaghetti sauce was somehow related to the main point of his talk. I’m really interested in what the class has to say about the topic of choice.

  • I read Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Outliers” and the man can tell stories. Goodness, I could listen to him all-day long. And his hair is fantastic, with the mad scientist look and whatnot.

    Malcolm says that if I was asked what kind of coffee I would prefer I would probably say “A nice dark and hearty roast.” Let’s ask Google: “Google, what kind of coffee do you prefer?” Google says: “I drink a blend of medium and dark roasts.” (from the Women’s Health Support forums, thread title “What kind of coffee do you prefer each morning?” 1st result in Google). This is the third post down from the question.

    Well, Google isn’t really the best thing to ask. Me? I don’t drink coffee.

    Malcolm says that Howard Moscowitz said lots of things about how having many choices helps us find the “perfect tomato sauce.” We are now obsessed with variability and differentiation rather than the “universals.” What an interesting observation. This is great for me.. Right?

    Apparently not as Barry and Joseph argue. It is more satisfactory for me, from a consumer’s standpoint, to have fewer choices. Are you kidding me? I love my cell phone, I love my jeans, I love my alarm clock, I love my brand of cereal because I force myself to, and that’s why I am a good consumer- because I am pleased and satisfied with my products, maybe I can get this post in front of kellogs and get free wheaties.

  • McClurken

    Overall, i thought the videos were somewhat entertaining. As far as the number of choices having to do with making you unhappy, i completely disagree. One, if there isn’t a lot of choices there is a better chance I’m not going to look. I don’t want to waste my time looking at something if there isn’t a lot to choose from. Second, with a lot of choices i am able to actually see everything and figure out what i actually want. I don’t think i have ever regretted something because i thought i would maybe like something else better.
    I thought the Bob Ross look-a-like had a nice accent and kept the audience’s attention very well, not only with his very well-groomed hair, but also with his fascinating story-telling abilities. He informed the audience with his stories instead of laying out the cold hard facts.
    The first reading goes into detail explaining the importance of marketing on how well a product will sell. I couldn’t agree more. There are so many products out there that are absolutely horrible, yet their makers do a very good job at advertising for them, so they continue to sell. Good advertisements can even fool my brain. I could of just eaten to the point where i am completely full, and see an advertisement for like Papa Johns and it will make me want to order it. It definitely pays off to have good advertisements.

  • the first video realy got me with his appearence, voice tone shifts and carisma. He had interesting points made by his friend about how the choices we have help us live happier lives, opposite from the second video.
    The first video says that there is not such perfect drink, coffe, or sause, rather there are perfect sauses. Different sauses for different peoples different tastes.
    However, the second video, much less flamboient, gave me the impression that the fact that we have so many choices is killing us. Literally he brought up how choices cause depressin and suicide. Crazy.
    He said that there is a fish bowl effect. We are the fish and are choices are our fish bowl. If we have unlimited choices are fish bowl is broken and we are paralyzed, but if we have fewer choices we will survive and be able to make decisions.
    And i agree with him, i think the choices are hurting our econamy and the well being of poorer people, as he said.

  • After watching the videos, Malcolm Gladwell’s talk on how it is good for an individual to make their own choice in life was a very out of the ordinary topic. It was very out of the ordinary because he used different types of spaghetti sauce to prove his point. I agreed that choice is good for people because it gives them options. People need to have options because if they didn’t everyone would be exactly same.

    Someone had to say it.

    On the other hand I completely disagreed with Barry Schwartz’s speech. Schwartz had a totally different view then Gladwell. He believed that instead of freedom and decision, people should be confined to limited choices. If we have limited choices, how can we choose our identity? People are influenced everyday by others. I agree with Stacey though, people do put on masks sometimes when there out in public but that doesn’t mean that they have changed completely.

  • O’Donnell:

    I found Malcolm Gladwell’s talk very interesting. It made me do a lot of thinking because i never really put much thought into why there are so many options of just anything in general. Everyone’s different and everyone prefers different things, which makes us individuals and makes us so unique. I also found the “visible solids” comment kinda funny.

    On Barry Schwartz’s talk, i do agree that the more choices someone has, the more freedom they have. Although choices can be good, they can also be bad. Too many choices can make you overwhelmed and lead you to making the wrong choice. Our society does have an influence on us, everything does. Choices can hurt you if you make the wrong one. Everything in life focuses on how people view you and judge you. Freedom does give people more choices, and sometimes those choices can be a bad thing.

    The first part of the ketchup article was relatively true. Most people don’t like going outside their comfort zone. Which is why people didn’t want to switch from French’s mustard to Dijon mustard. Advertisement is directly related to how well a product sells. The better the advertisement, the better it will sell. It’s pretty self explanatory.

  • O’Donnell FTW! 1337!

    My first thought is that I like the video and reading choices a lot. I didn’t think I would be able to get into this topic at all, when I find myself now intrigued in thought.

    Right now, this is the gist of my thoughts: Choice is where it’s at, but only if you are intelligent about it. Let’s say you get the chunky sauce. You start to enjoy it at first, until part way through, you start to see that there is some particular kind of chunk that you don’t like. Every time you run into that kind of chunk, it ruins the spaghetti experience for you. You then flashback to when you were at the store and were staring face-to-face with chunky and spicy sauces. You start to conceptualize getting the spicy sauce instead of chunky. This is when regret and sadness takes affect. When you start conceptualizing a better outcome and focusing on that new and saucy life that you could have had if you chose spicy, you feel sadness. So all you have to do is not conceptualize changing the past. Just accept the chunky sauce for what it is and recognize that spicy probably has its own faults, as well. Plan to be adventurous and try out the spicy sauce next time and enjoy the chunky for the time you have with it.

    Choices are potentially harmful, yet can make life more interesting and pleasing when handled the right way. Don’t conceptualize to find happiness in the past or in the future: find happiness in the moment.

  • I think these were 2 good video’s because each talk clearly stated their opinions on choice which made it easier for me to pick that I am for choice.

    I thought Michael Gladwell’s video on spaghetti sauce was interesting. I agree that choice is better because everyone is different and food is a prime example on how everybody likes their food a little bit different. If someone knows what they like then the choice shouldn’t be that hard when making trips to the grocery store to pick out cereal or in Barry Schwartz case, when buying a pair of jeans. Although what Barry Schwartz said sounded good and that less choice is better, i believe having choice makes us who we are. I don’t think people worry too much about decisions like he described it. Everybody is different and having options makes us who we are, and if someone makes a wrong choice, then that is how we change and learn from mistakes.

  • After I got past the fact that Malcolm Gladwell looks like Krusty the Clown from the Simpsons, he became very interesting to me. He made me think about more than what people had just thought they like and more about why they thought they liked those items. Sometimes people even seemed to not like what they thought they liked or had an idea of what they liked, which would be completely opposite from the truth. This proposes the thought that we are not asking the right questions, just as the Pepsi representative was trying to find the right amount of aspartame. I also feel that people can be very easily influenced once some sort of stimuli is presented to them. This can be represented by the well known phrase, “The grass is greener on the other side.” I repeatedly see that people seem to want to be a part of a new trend and when that opportunity presents itself, they will join the bandwagon.

  • Our talk will be of mass customization vs. too many choices being harrowing. I will be taking the side of mass customization, and thus, I will argue for variability versus universalization in consumerism.

    We will also have a discussion on ads and the psychology of advertising mixed with the effect of how we purchase.

  • After watching the videos and reading everyones comments I have seen that many people agree most with Barry Schwartz. I have to say immediately after watching the videos I did too, because very convincing arguments. Too many choices can be paralyzing, they can cause regret, increase our expectations so that we are never satisfied, and even harm our economy. While many of these points are valid and we might be possible with less choices I would have to say I am in favor of more choice.
    Think about it there will always be choices no matter what, and sometimes these choices can be difficult, even life changing. How do we deal with the stress of making these important decisions? Practice. I think making lots of smaller choices each day is good for us. Sometimes we may not be happy with the choice but we are able to learn from it. If at first we pick the wrong spaghetti try, try again! By doing this we can learn about ourselves and what we like and want out of a sauce, and in other decisions what we want out of life. Because although it may seem like too many choices cause unhappiness, I think in the long run it will really make us happier.

    Choices are empowering. They make us feel like we are in control of our lives. When we have more choices and a bad one is made we only have ourselves to blame. Personally I would want to make a bad choice and be able to learn from it than have someone else make that choice for me and blame them for the poor decision. I would rather have my life and my happiness in my own hands rather than in the hands of others. If there are fewer choices it may seem like there are less decisions but the decisions still exist they are just being made by someone else. So by choosing a life with less decisions you are giving up a large amount of control and independence in your life. Would you rather be free and in control of your life with the risk of failure and unhappiness but the chance to learn about yourself, or be constricted by fewer choices and dependent on society to bring you happiness. Personally I’m up for the challenge to control my own future.

  • O’Donnell
    A very interesting choice of videos. They’re compleatly opposite of each other. I agree that choice is a good thing. With the mustard, I myself use a different kind of mustard based on the sandwich I am having. But I do see how choices can make you unhappy. We always like to put the blame on someone else but with so many choices we can only blame ourselfs if it was a bad choice.

  • I most definitely liked each one on of these videos. It went over a topic that I thing I important to discuss. It is interesting to see where people stand on this topic as far as having many choices or not. I feel as though it’s completely based on opinion and neither one is better than the next. Each has its pros and cons and each side can be argued the better side. The approaches the speakers take are interesting as well. They both make convincing points that could sway the audience and change their minds on such an important topic. If I had to choose which side to choose I would most likely side with Barry Schwartz. This is because I am a huge supported of having choice and availability. However, like I said earlier, this is all strictly opinion based.

  • Both of the videos i watched were both interesting. The videos were about something that happens in everybody’s daily life. The first video made me realize its good to have varieties in the world. People need different varieties to fit their needs, for example its like having a girlfriend, their are so many girls of different variety, that guys have different girls to choose from. If every girl was the same then that would not suit every guy in the world.
    Looking at the second made me realize that variety can make a person go nuts. Having so many choices can make humans go greedy, and the poorer suffer, that he commented in the video.
    Myself, I like having varieties because I like to have something different from everybody else, or maybe the cheaper version of something…..

  • After the discussion today I still feel the same way as I did before. I feel like more choices is better, no matter what we are talking about. Without choices, our world would not be as interesting and everyone would be the same. There would be no room for opinions or beliefs because there would be no choice.

    The discussion was very good and it flowed well today. Everyone said something and many people clearly stated their opinions on the talks. One thing I didn’t really understand was why we kept comparing two/three very different things such as cancer and mustard or medicine and jeans. Sometimes we tended to go WAY off topic I felt like and truthfully, we did not talk much about the talks. Overall, good job, but there are definitely still things we all need to work on to have a great discussion. 🙂

  • I don’t even know WHAT happened today in our discussion- but it was really fun. I should probably mention that I DON’T really judge people based on what water bottle they have or the brand of their clothes, nor do I want all my choices to be made for me by the television (of course, if it was the perfect choice then clearly- that is a no brainer). Pretty much I just wanted to go with an unexpected answer to Laura and Felicia’s questions.

    I still feel the same way about choices as I did before our class discussion, that I do get buyers remorse- and that there are really way too many choices out there. However, about individualism I feel like that you can’t really ever be an individual. You are always grouped with others in some way- the way you dress and how YOU choose to dress groups you with others in one way or another. Chris and Tyler will always have their fiji water- and in every aspect of life we always have someone else who we share that with; you can’t do anything as an individual because someone else is doing it too.

  • After today’s discussion, I actually changed my mind about Schwartz’s video. At first, I interpreted his video as too much choice increases our expectations. However, at today’s discussion, it was interpreted as people blame themselves for making the wrong choice if they have too many choices. I disagree with this thought. I think making choice mistakes can benefit us in the long run because it will teach us not to make the wrong choice again.

    We also discussed advertising techniques and if a company such as McDonald’s should advertise a lot to avoid competition from smaller companies. Personally, I think if a company has the money to spend on advertising, it should do it. All companies start small, including McDonald’s. They succeeded in the capitalist world and earned the money, and now they have the right to spend it on advertising and to attract more customers.

    I thought this discussion showed progression from our discussion on Tuesday. I thought the group leaders were more prepared and engaged the audience more. Personally, I was not into the subject, but I still tried to put some input so hopefully I will have a better day on Tuesday.

    –Stacey Peros

  • I really enjoyed today’s discussion. There were some very strong opinions expressed and people were able to stand behind them which was great. Although I felt that some of the examples were extreme and very difficult to compare to one another, the discussion leaders did a great job of keeping things flowing. We also used our time wisely and discussed each talk and some of the readings.
    As far as my opinions on the topics, I haven’t really changed my mind. There were some very good points made in our discussion but I still think having more choices is better. It gives us a chance to learn what we really want and feel like we are in charge of our own lives.

  • McClurken
    Today’s discussion was cool because it was interesting to see how the things you buy, such as food, can make your identity. Every decision that you make as a consumer shapes your personality, each one of us has our own reasons for doing what we do everyday. It is ridiculous that a $5 bottle of mustard can make you feel like you are this better person for buying Grey Poupon mustard. And, it was especially interesting because of the various advertising strategies used. Starbucks was mentioned I think, and the fact that it was mentioned was advertising. There is so much hype about the Super Bowl commercials, that one of my friends told me that they took more interest in that rather than in the game. That is amazing…
    I pretty feel the same way as I did coming into the discussion. There are too many choices, and I feel like when you are trying to “be yourself” by making decisions that you think will let you stand out, you aren’t really doing it. Nobody is alike in every single one of their choices. So in that way, we all are alike for making our own choices, which makes us have something in common with everybody.

  • McClurken

    Thanks everybody for a great discussion! I found our discussion about identity to be especially interesting, and I personally think that there is some element of choosing your identity that exists independent of consumer decisions, but that a large part of who we are is dependent on who we are perceived as, and consumer choices definitely impact that. No matter how hard someone might try not to judge based on first impressions, they do have an impact, however subconscious, and we react, whether consciously or no, to people’s impressions of us. I also enjoyed our discussion of the isolation that can result from an overabundance of choice, versus the connections that making the same choice creates. I feel, however, that these connections can and are made when there are no choices, because it is the shared experience rather than the shared choice that creates the bond.

    I thought we could have perhaps touched more on the concept of authenticity, but didn’t really have time and the conversation didn’t go that way. I would be interested to know people’s thoughts on what makes an authentic experience and whether we really are searching for that in our choices.

  • Following the class discussion on Thursday, I left feeling as though I saw the topic discussed through another perspective. When the discussion started, the leaders took control and properly led the talk within the group. In addition, I liked how there was debating between individuals in the group that became fairly heated and passionate.

    I am still fixed in my opinion as far as choices go. I firmly believe that being able to have more choices is the best possibility for anyone to have in almost any circumstance when looking to make oneself happy. I also felt that the discussion leader did a better job engaging other individuals who do not usually talk, or talk less than others do. I am looking forward to our next discussion and hopefully there will be another set of good group leaders who engage us in intriguing discussion.

  • The discussion went well. As the group leader defending Barry Schwartz, I felt I failed. Maggie presented excellent points, doubtless, but the support of the entire room aided her as well. It disappointed me that no one sympathized with the position of small business. I support creativity which is undoubtedly lost in a choice-filled environment. This is the paradox of choice. When we allow advertising by monopolized restaurants, monopolized fashion, monopolized architects, there exists no space for new ideas. In reading the above comments people stand ‘fixed’ in their opinions. The close minded view that more choices means more individuality makes me sad. Why would McDonalds renovate their menu when they could simply out-advertise their competitors? The link to larger issues requires faith, admitted, but it is no jump in subject. Food betters our life. Food connects us to health, just as medicine does, even a cure for cancer. Capitalism thrives on greed. I would never shrug off a cure for cancer being hidden behind politics and corporate greed. Companies understand that major innovation poses a real threat to their money making ability, so they blind us with choices. Really, though, what can we eat that doesn’t have Ronald’s red hands all over it? Frankly, I’d rather give that money to a better cause. Ronald McDonald House anyone?

  • I thought Thursday’s discussion went fairly well. I felt as though we were sort of circulating our thoughts a little bit. We talked about maybe two topics for the entire hour, and for me it got a little bit repetitive.

    The topic of advertising was interesting though. I feel that if a company has the money to advertise then it is a company with products worth trying. They grasp our attention by applying the products to OUR individual lifestyles. I also think that choices are a definite advantage for both the costumer and company. We, as a consumer can find exactly what we’re looking for in a product and when we find that and are satisfied, we give more credit to the producer and keep buying their products. Everyone has their own specific preferences on foods, clothes, brands, etc. so I believe the more options we have the the better the chance we can find what’s best for each and become an “individual”.

  • I was glad at how involved our discussion was. I’m not going to lie, though – I am pretty shocked at how just about everyone in the class sided with Malcolm Gladwell’s views on mass customization. Edmund had great points on the downfalls of monopolies that giant corporations can put on advertising and on the paradox of choice. He and I both initially gravitated moreso to Barry Schwartz’s paradox of choice, but I took the position of “the more choice, the better” in class. I think there’s a sweet spot of choice in our consumer lives – which is something Schwartz advocates. I also can see a lot of the appeal in Gladwell’s speech, and enjoyed that side of the spectrum in our debate. I appreciate how he emphasized aligning oneself with variability rather than universals. Theoretically, I like that. Put to practice, it isn’t always as invigorating as it sounds.

    It’s interesting that there is a clear pattern of self reliance in our group. Day after day, our talks tend to come back to the idea of personal responsibility and how it is the duty of the individual to deal with whatever befalls them. When Edmund brought up how seemingly infinite choice being in the individual’s hands leads them to blame their unhappiness on themselves, our classmates retorted with an attitude that they felt it was right and that blaming someone else isn’t better to do. It’s especially compelling because we live in such a finger-pointing society that most of our group lives by a much different mantra.

    I had fun.

  • The discussion on Thursday went very well. Mostly everyone in the class sided that more choices benefited individual’s lifestyles. The group leaders did an excellent job involving the class in the discussion. Everyone in the class participated and gave their input toward the conversation. I think Edmund’s views fell short with his audience because no one was thinking about the big picture, just the little examples he used to convey his idea.

    I still feel that more choices and advertisement is a good thing. Instead of conforming and trying to like an item or a decision, people can choose what they want to do and what they like. In addition, advertisement is all around us. I don’t think people will be sad if they don’t get best mustard in the world. If it was the best mustard in the world, I’m pretty sure that people would be able to find it quickly. Talking is a very good form of advertisement. All in all, I felt that discussion was very good.

  • I can’t really argue too heatedly about much that had to do with our talk about consumption and consumers. Even after having thought about it in depth, I still prefer multitudes of choice as opposed to a very limited selection of items at a store. If I have to sacrifice my happiness to do it then so be it.

    I think that this sense of discontent we get when we leave a store is part of the reason I don’t go shopping, at all. I will have a stylist send me all my clothes till the day I die.

  • O’Donnell.

    That discussion was fairly fantastic. I can see the effectiveness of having a specific direction you want to go in.

    My conclusion is that both 100% choice and 0% choice are bad. Choices can help us learn through operant conditioning. If every choice we’re supposed to make in our entire life was chosen by someone else, would we even be living? Maybe we would never feel as sad as anyone else and we wouldn’t blame ourself as much, but we wouldn’t feel nearly as satisfied after accomplishing something, either.

    At the same time, if you give us all the choices in the world, even after gaining ultimate knowledge on every outcome of every choice, we would continuously beat ourselves up. “I should have gone with this! I should done that!” Perhaps some people dwell on the past more than others, but with that much choice, it’s almost guaranteed that at some point or another, we’re going to regret something.

    In conclusion, believe in a healthy balance of choice and lack thereof.

  • The questions in this Ted talk were really intense and made me do a lot of thinking.

    I know that Facebook is now more popular than MySpace. The main reason i switched over was because i have a lot of friends in other countries and for me, it was easier to find them because i can just type in their name. I think that because MySpace was created first it gave Facebook a basis on how to make their site better than MySpace. MySpace did have a bad influence on parents because of all the publicity about child molesters and creepy men looking for children. Since parents were already scared of their children using MySpace and meeting creepy men, when Facebook came along, they knew what to do and what not to do to get a bad reputation.

    I think the reason that society now gives us the right to choose our own medicine is because people are ignorant. The people that fought for the ability to make their own choices believe that they know best. I, personally would want the doctor to make the decision on which medicine would be best for me and which medicine would treat me the best. Doctor’s specialize in medicine and study that so we don’t need to. The people that have a degree that specializes in something specific, should know more about that than the average person. I would put my trust in someone that knows a subject better than i did, even though i think that people should have the ability to make their own decision.

    Too much choice can be overwhelming, but no choice is not acceptable either.

  • O’Donnell

    During the discussion, the questions asked made me think about about how things would be better if we were all limited to one thing and we had less choice, but I still stand by my position where there should be options for everybody. Everybody is different and we should all have the ultimate decision on which medicine we should take, which jeans we should wear, and what we eat for dinner.

    There is never going to a universal product that is going to make everybody happy. Different products are offered because they made different people happy.

  • The discussion on Thursday went well but I think we could have taken it further. We spent too much time talking about if we would rather make our own decisions or have someone make them for us. I think we should have gone into how consumers go for the experience as well as the product. We also went into advertising a little to much. I’m not saying that what we talked about was bad, I just think we could have had more points brought in and looked at things from different view points.

  • The talk on Thursday was much improved from the first ‘trial talk’. Edmund and Maggie did a great job of posing questions so that when we tended to get off track they could bring us back to the main topic. Like I said in my first post, I read comments left on the actual and there people also got caught up in the literal small examples that were used as examples instead of looking at the big picture. My goal going into the talk was to look past the small picture and notice what message was really trying to be conveyed and I feel like the class did a somewhat good job of doing that. This talk had many more opinions than the first one which was a good thing and it will continue to get better.
    Good job Edmund and Maggie.

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