A maximizer is someone who researches, comparison shops and works hard to make sure they get the absolute very best.
A satisficer is someone who is happy with good enough.
Many of us are maximizers about some things and satisficers about others. Which is the better strategy?
Maximizing may give better objective results — but makes us unhappier in the end:
Although extant research suggests maximizing is related to objectively positive outcomes (e.g., job offers), I propose maximizing may be simultaneously and positively related to objectively negative outcomes (e.g., job rejections). Specifically, I argue maximizers bear more instances of positive and negative outcomes than satisficers, and that in spite of their positive outcomes—yet because of their negative outcomes—maximizers are less happy than satisficers. In Study 1, participants took the alternate uses test; as expected, maximizing was related to seeking alternatives, yet, maximizing was also related to seeking low-quality alternatives. Moreover, the number of low-quality alternatives partially mediated the relationship between maximizing and negative affect. In Study 2, the impact of maximizing on experiencing negative affect was further assessed by examining whether maximizing is related to seeking and choosing low-quality alternatives. Participants played the Iowa Gambling Task; it was found maximizing was related to alternating among decks, and in particular, sampling bad decks; ultimately, maximizing was related to winning less money, and experiencing more negative affect. Finally, in Study 3, participants responded to questionnaires about positive and negative life outcomes; it was found that maximizing was simultaneously related to experiencing more positive and more negative outcomes, and that negative outcomes predicted happiness to a greater degree than positive outcomes. These findings suggest an irony of maximizing: It produces both positive and negative outcomes, contributing to literature explaining why maximizers are less happy than satisficers, and ultimately whether happiness is a matter of choice.
Source: “Why are maximizers less happy than satisficers? Because they maximize positive and negative outcomes” from Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, Volume 23, Issue 2, pages 179–190, April 2010
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