Why can’t we choose what makes us happy?

This from Hsee, C. K. & Hastie, R. (2006). Decision and experience: Why don’t we choose what makes us happy? Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 10(1), 31-37


Another common belief is that more choice options are always better. In reality, having more options can lead to worse experiences. For example, if employees are given a free trip to Paris, they are happy; if they are given a free trip to Hawaii, they are happy. But if they are given a choice between the two trips, they will be less happy, no matter which option they choose. Having the choice highlights the relative deficiencies in each option. People who choose Paris complain that ‘Paris does not have the ocean’, whereas people who choose Hawaii complain that ‘Hawaii does not have great museums’ .

(my emphasis)

The reference is:
Luce, M.K. et al. (2001) The impact of emotional tradeoff difficulty on decision behavior. In Conflict and Tradeoffs in Decision Making (Weber, E.U. and Baron, J., eds), pp. 86–109, Cambridge University Press

Seems opportunity cost isn’t just something that bothers economists!

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