Barry Schwartz

Professor at Swarthmore, author of Practical Wisdom and one of TED’s most popular speakers.

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Barry Schwartz studies the link between economics and psychology, offering startling insights into modern life.

He is the author of many books, most recently, Why We Work (2015), an eye-opening, groundbreaking tour of the purpose of work in our lives, showing how work operates in our culture and how you can find your own path to happiness in the workplace, and Practical Wisdom: The Right Way to Do the Right Thing (2011), a reasoned and urgent call to embrace and protect the essential human quality that has been drummed out of our lives: wisdom.

In 2005, Barry published The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less. The message of the book is that too many choices can paralyze people into inaction and cause them to be dissatisfied with even good decisions. It was named one of the top business books of the year by both Business Week and Forbes Magazine, and has been translated into fourteen languages.

Barry is a professor of psychology at Swarthmore College, in Pennsylvania. He has been there since receiving his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1971. He has published over 10 books and more than 100 articles for professional journals. His work has been supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and the MacArthur Foundation. He is a fellow of both the American Psychological Association and the Association for Psychological Science, and was recently honored by being named a Phi Beta Kappa Distinguished Visiting Lecturer for 2006-07. Among Schwartz’s older books are two written for general audiences: The Battle for Human Nature (1986), and The Costs of Living (1994), each of which was awarded the prize for outstanding non-fiction book of the year by the Athenaeum of Philadelphia.

Barry has published articles on various topics in The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, the Chronicle of Higher Education, Parade Magazine, USA Today, Advertising Age, Slate, Scientific American, The New Republic, Newsday, the AARP Bulletin, the Harvard Business Review, and the Guardian. He has appeared on dozens of radio shows, including NPR’s Morning Edition, and has been interviewed on Anderson Cooper 360 (CNN), the Lehrer News Hour (PBS), and CBS Sunday Morning. He has lectured to audiences as large as 5,000, among them the British and the Dutch governments, as well as trade organizations and businesses representing industries as diverse as healthcare, personal finance, travel and leisure, restaurants, supermarkets, consumer electronics, office supplies, software development, and e-commerce, advertising, arts and entertainment, cable television, home building, and the military. It appears that the “choice problem” is relevant in every corner of modern society.

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