The Art of Choosing

Broadening minor
Minor code
10 weeks

Minor The Art of Choosing


Choices ranging from the mundane to the profound are an essential part of our daily life. Just consider how many choices you already made today before you started reading this course description. At a more fundamental level, being able to decide for ourselves can provide a sense of control and autonomy that is essential to well-being and human flourishing. Yet how to make choices that make us happy, provide purpose, and allow us to enhance our quality of life often remains elusive.

In this minor, we will deconstruct choice and why it matters so much. We will explore whether there ever can be too much choice and the myriad influences that context has on our decisions and choices. At the end of the course, you will be able to leverage these insights to make better choices for the good of yourself and others.

Understanding and overcoming our own biases and shortcomings in choice may not only increase happiness but also can also facilitate being a force for positive change. In the words of Aristotle, “knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom”. Building on this knowledge, this course will equip you with frameworks and tools to craft and curate compelling customer experiences that facilitate better choices for consumers and firms alike.

Learning objectives

  • Understand how choices influence different forms of happiness
  • Identify and analyze relevant situational influences that might shape choice
  • Engage in critical self-reflection about your own decisions
  • Learn how we can make better choices for ourselves and others
  • Evaluate different approaches to curate choice sets and assortments that create value for consumers and firms

Overview content per week

1: Choices and well-being

  • Introduction: What is happiness? How are choice and happiness related?
  • Variety is the spice of life vs. choice overload
  •  Application: Curating choice sets and assortments

2: Choosing for the self I: managing trade-offs between the present and the future

  • Challenges in foregoing short-term benefits to pursue long-term goals
  • Effectively navigating everyday temptations from food to savings
  • Application: Crafting solutions to help consumers to achieve long-term goals

3: Choosing for the self II: money, time, and materialism

  • Money, time, and happiness: a complex relationship
  • Living in a material world: the vicious vs. virtuous cycle of materialism
  • Application: Marketing luxury products

4: Choosing with others and making choices for others

  • Private vs. public choices: How (social) context impacts choice
  • Spending on and with others; does the perfect gift exist?
  • Application: The impact of technology on enjoyment

5: The art of choosing

  • Summary of contextual influences on choice
  • What to do about choice 
  • Synthesis and conclusion

Note 1: one class will cover more than one item

Note 2: more detailed explanation available upon request

Teaching methods

  • Classroom teaching
  • Case discussions
  • Guest speakers

All sessions will be online (e.g., some guest speaker sessions or feedback sessions)

Teaching materials

  • Academic articles (others and my own)
  • Articles from the popular and managerial press

A few illustrative readings can be found below:

Chernev et al. (2015), "Choice Overload: A Conceptual Review and Meta-Analysis," Journal of Consumer Psychology, 25 (2), 333-58. [Module 1]

Bhattacharjee & Mogilner (2014), "Happiness from Ordinary and Extraordinary Experiences," Journal of Consumer Research, 41 (1), 1-17. [Module 3]

Liu et al. 2019), "A Framework for Understanding Consumer Choices for Others," Journal of Consumer Research, 46 (3), 407-34. [Module 4]


Method of examination

  1. Individual assignment: final exam with open-ended questions (60 %)
    Note that this exam might be offered as a remote written test (depending on the pandemic situation). There will be a resit opportunity for this assignment.
  2. Individual assignment: choice tracker + choice hacker: a self-reflection diary (20 %)
    Students will track their own (daily) choices and resulting happiness. They will write self-reflective essays about select decisions and their context based on the course’s frameworks
    and theories.
  3. Group assignment: deconstructing life-altering decisions (20%)
    Students will create a presentation based on the life-altering or difficult decisions of 2-3 alumni, managers, and or people they consider inspirational. Students will interview respondents leveraging the materials and concepts covered in the course (e.g., “what was the most difficult decision you ever made in your life?”, “which (important) decision do you still contemplate long after the fact?”).

Composition of final grade

80% individual assignments

20% group assignment


Students will receive personalized feedback forms for the individual and group assignments. There will be an opportunity to inspect the final exam.

Contact person

Johannes Boegershausen

010 4082753 (secretaries)

Broadening minor
Minor code
10 weeks
Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University
Study points (EC)
Instruction language
Campus Woudestein

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