The Maximization Paradox: The Costs Of Seeking Alternatives

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Personality And Individual Differences


Contrary to the common belief that more options lead to better decisions, recent research has demonstrated that choosing from a large number of options can have detrimental psychological effects. We investigated whether people were willing to sacrifice resources for more options, and whether choice-making orientation moderated such willingness. As predicted, people who were motivated to make the best choice possible—“maximizers”—were more willing to sacrifice resources such as time to attain a larger choice array than were people who tend to search for a satisfactory choice (i.e., “satisficers”). Additionally, maximizers who sacrificed to attain more options were ultimately less satisfied with their choice relative to maximizers who chose from a small assortment, and to satisficers (Studies 2 and 3). We term the pattern in which maximizers tend to sacrifice resources to attain more options that ultimately reduce their satisfaction, the “Maximization Paradox”.

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