Barry Schwartz: Guru of Psychology. Respect the Good Intentions


First of all, Barry Schwartz, thank you so much for providing this interview opportunity for CREATIVIDA to share your wisdom with the readers around the world.

Barry Schwartz is a professor of Psychology at Swarthmore College. He researches the link between psychology and economics. He is the author of The Costs of Living: How Market Freedom Erodes the Best Things in Life, The Paradox of Choice, and 4 other books. He is also well know as a TED speaker.

-----For those who are not familiar with you, allow us to know more about yourself. How did you get interested in human psychology?

I got interested in psychology as a first-year college student in the introductory course more than 50 years ago and I have been studying it ever since. My special interest is in motivation and decision making.

-----You have written many books, given many keynote speeches, accepted lots of interviews, including this one. What motivates you to share your wisdom?

I think people have many misconceptions about themselves and others, and I would like to do my part to educate them a little. I also find that when I reach out to popular audiences, I educate myself as well.

-----It is not exaggerated to say that 99.9% people work only for the sake of money. For what do you work?

First, it IS exaggerated. I think many people work for more than money and most people aspire to work for more than money. In my own case, my main motives have been curiosity about human nature and a desire to do things that can help make people’s lives better.

-----What is the definition of success for you?

Success for me is coming up with a new way to understand something that has puzzled me and/or helping others come up with new ways to understand things that have puzzled them.

-----What is the definition of happiness for you?

I have no definition of happiness.

-----Does success bring about happiness or does happiness bring about success?

Both are true. Happy people do better work and have better relationships than unhappy people and achieving goals (success) makes most people happy.

-----If you are not sure about what you work for, what would be the first step to thinking about?

I think it is usually helpful to imagine an alternative, in this case, either doing the same kind of work but in very different circumstances, or doing different kind of work. Imagining alternatives helps people to see what is good, and bad, in their current situation.

-----People often talk about the meaning of life. Do you think life has some meaning?

For me, meaning is about connecting to something bigger than yourself. This usually translates into doing something that improves the lives of others.

-----If you could make a call to 20-year-old Barry Schwartz, what kind of advice you would give to him?

Just keep doing what you are doing. It is my great good fortune that I have almost nothing to regret about how my life has gone. Oh, one other thing: learn more math.

-----If you can leave one message to make the world a better place, what would be your message?

Respect the good intentions of other people and assume they are trying to do the right thing. Then ask what you can do to make it easier for others to do the right thing.

Edited by Jennifer Ann Garcia

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