The Choice Effect

Love and Commitment in an Age of Too Many Options.

Young women have a plethora of personal and professional opportunities these days, but no idea how to decide among them. That’s the underlying theme of “The Choice Effect,” a new paperback that attempts to explain why so many twenty- and thirty-somethings hate to choose, while also exploring the implications for the love lives of these women. The authors even offer cutesy terms to describe their subjects, referring to them as choisters (think choice + oyster; a person who is inundated with choices and thinks the world is his or her oyster), or members of Generation whY Not Later.

For the most part, the book’s arguments are straightforward, though predictably scattershot. The authors—a food editor (McGibbon), an MBA candidate/future medical school student (Vogel), and a Twitter employee who hopes to set a world record by running seven marathons on seven continents in seven weeks (Williams)—begin by discussing how the-world-is-your-oyster mindset is acquired, and how its indulged. They go on to argue that women are sidestepping traditional timelines—not because they don’t want the things their parents did (especially marriage and family), but because they have too many things competing for their attention.

The messages all kind of make sense, though it doesn’t seem as if the authors know what they want the book to be. In spite of their self-deprecating humor, I get the feeling that they wish to be taken seriously, an effort belied by the phallic symbols on the cover—watermelon, orange, and lime ice pops. It doesn’t help that in trying to be flip, McGibbon, Vogel, and Williams don’t come across as particularly likeable. Perhaps that should be no surprise, though. As they freely admit, “Not everyone loves choisters as much as we love ourselves.”

The Choice Effect