Maximizing Versus Satisficing: Happiness Is A Matter Of Choice

Barry Schwartz, Swarthmore College
Andrew Ward, Swarthmore College
J. Monterosso
S. Lyubomirsky
K. White
D. R. Lehman

Abstract

Can people feel worse off as the options they face increase? The present studies suggest that some people--maximizers--can. Study 1 reported a Maximization Scale, which measures individual differences in desire to maximize. Seven samples revealed negative correlations between maximization and happiness, optimism, self-esteem, and life satisfaction, and positive correlations between maximization and depression, perfectionism, and regret. Study 2 found maximizers less satisfied than nonmaximizers (satisficers) with consumer decisions, and more likely to engage in social comparison. Study 3 found maximizers more adversely affected by upward social comparison. Study 4 found maximizers more sensitive to regret and less satisfied in an ultimatum bargaining game. The interaction between maximizing and choice is discussed in terms of regret, adaptation, and self-blame. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved)(journal abstract)