From an AMA with Barry Schwartz, author of The Paradox of Choice and Practical Wisdom: The Right Way to Do the Right Thing:
Those are some really interesting talks. I'm curious though - do you believe that the most successful and affluent people in our society tend to be not much happier (or even less happy?) than poorer people? It sounds like you believe that an increase in material wealth can easily lead to a confusing overabundance of choices. I'd think, though, in a capitalist society the richest citizens eventually reach a point where their wealth opens pretty much any door for them, and the abundance of available choices becomes liberating and gratifying to the ego (basically if you desire it, you can have it). I can't imagine, say, Donald Trump or Jay-Z getting upset over having too many choices. Admittedly this level of wealth and influence is unattainable for most, but I think the fantasy of one day getting there is something that drives a lot of people...
The data say that increased material wealth has only a marginal positive effect on happiness, at least above subsistence. Below subsistence, material improvements make a huge difference. The thing about the megarich, I think, is that they have a bevy of assistants to make many choices for them, or to reduce the options to a few. Plus, if they make a mistake, it's no big deal. Just buy the Ferrari and let the Maserati sit idle in your garage. I think Donald Trump and Jay-Z are bad models to build a theory on.
Wise words to live by, not just when it comes to modeling choice, but most anything: Donald Trump and Jay-Z are bad models to build a theory on.