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Freedom of choice 'causes depression'

From the foods we eat to the TV channels we watch and the career we pursue, life has given us so much variety.

world Updated: Jan 22, 2010 12:54 IST

From the foods we eat to the TV channels we watch and the career we pursue, life has given us so much variety. But, this freedom of choice is taking a toll on our health -- by causing depression, says a new study.

Researchers have carried out the study and found that while the ability to choose is generally a good thing too much freedom of choice is actually crippling people with indecision and making them unhappy.

According to the researchers, the problem is that when people have too much choice, they become obsessed about what your decision will say about you. And then when you have made the choice you worry that it is wrong.

Choice can also foster selfishness and a lack of empathy because it can focus people on their own preferences and on themselves at the expense of what is good for society as a whole, 'The Daily Telegraph' reported.

Lead author Prof Hazel Rose Markus of Stanford University said: "We cannot assume that choice, as understood by educated, affluent Westerners, is a universal aspiration, and that the provision of choice will necessarily foster freedom and well-being.

"Even in contexts where choice can foster freedom, empowerment, and independence, it is not an unalloyed good. Choice can also produce a numbing uncertainty, depression, and selfishness."