Satisficers and Maximizers

Barry Schwartz’s research showed that people tend to fall into to one of two groups when making decisions – he called these groups satisficers and maximizers. Maximizers desire the best possible result while satisficers desire a result that is good enough to meet some criterion. That doesn’t necessarily mean satisficers settle for crap. Their criteria could be lofty – but, as long as it meets that criteria, they don’t care about it being the best. Most people are a mix of both. That said, most people default to one of the two.

(Thanks to the source for the image)

Barry Schwartz argues that satisficers tend to be happier than maximizers as maximizers spend a lot of time and energy on many decisions that just don’t matter as much.

I agree.

I am not sure what I was growing up but I did have strong maximizer tendencies until a few years ago. Over the years, however, I’ve learnt that there are very few things worth maximizing. For the most part, being a satisficer is stress free and rewarding because you often rely on research done by others. I also think you spend way too much as a maximizer sterilizing instead of playing and editing instead of creating.

Sure, you could spend hours polishing that draft. But, polishing is best done to things that are worth polishing. And, it often takes many years of creating before you arrive at things worth polishing.

So, the next time you’re facing hours of endless research to purchase something, consider asking a couple of friends who tend to have similar tastes. Or, just go on Amazon and pick the most popular item.

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t always need the best. Good enough, for most things, is good enough. And, for the few things that you determine to be worth maximizing, make sure you enjoy the polishing…

  • Marvin John Towler

    Oftentimes good enough is good enough.

  • Luke Miles

    Some situations where ‘good enough’ is much better than ‘the best’:
    -which college you get a degree at
    -which cereal you get at the store
    -which tomatoes you plant in your garden
    and definitely:
    -which people you love and spend years with

    • agree. I might debate you a bit on the definition of good enough on colleges. with the way the world is going, I find a lot of concentration in the top tier. but, that could be us arguing over semantics. 🙂 – *Never failure, only learning and never older, only better..*

  • Luke Miles

    That paper is very well written, glad I read it. It’s so easy to be an academic these days, you just have to click through a link to find the original research.