Consumers are increasingly overwhelmed by the range of choices, especially in industrialized countries. Increasingly people are reaching a point of over-choice, namely the point at which the advantage of diversity and individualization are cancelled by the complexity of the consumer's decision-making process. Individuals can then become paralyzed by the choices, leading to a form of apathy which spills over into other areas of life.
In the USA in 1990 consumers can select from among 25,000 items on supermarket shelves (including 200 kinds of cereal and 11,092 magazines), access 53 television channels, subscribe to 11,092 periodicals, and be solicited by many thousands of pubic and special interest groups.
Marketing has cultivated a misunderstanding about the nature of freedom of choice. This is not equivalent to multiplying the opportunities for choice. Infinite choice reduces people to passivity.
The Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential is a collaboration between UIA and Mankind 2000, started in 1972. It is the result of an ambitious effort to collect and present information on the problems with which humanity is confronted, as well as the challenges such problems pose to concept formation, values and development strategies. Problems included are those identified in international periodicals but especially in the documents of some 60,000 international non-profit organizations, profiled in the Yearbook of International Organizations.
The Encyclopedia includes problems which such groups choose to perceive and act upon, whether or not their existence is denied by others claiming greater expertise. Indeed such claims and counter-claims figure in many of the problem descriptions in order to reflect the often paralyzing dynamics of international debate. In the light of the interdependence demonstrated among world problems in every sector, emphasis is placed on the need for approaches which are sufficiently complex to encompass the factions, conflicts and rival worldviews that undermine collective initiative towards a promising future.
Non-profit, apolitical, independent, and non-governmental in nature, the UIA has been a pioneer in the research, monitoring and provision of information on international organizations, international associations and their global challenges since 1907.