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Sunday, March 05, 2006

Maximizers and Satisficers

Do you shoot for the best, or do you settle for "good enough"?

A recent study by Barry Schwartz examined the outcomes (salaries and job satisfaction) of job choices made by "maximisers" and "satisficers". In case you're unfamiliar with the terms, the two types are simply those who shoot for the best possible outcome and those who are happy if they hit a certain target (i.e if they get a certain income, that's good enough and they're happy). Here's an excerpt:
Five hundred and forty-eight graduating students from 11 universities were categorized as maximisers or satisficers based on their answers to questions like "“When I am in the car listening to the radio, I often check other stations to see if something better is playing, even if I am relatively satisfied with what I'’m listening to"”.

When questioned again the following summer, the maximisers had found jobs that paid 20 per cent more on average than the satisficers'’ jobs, but they were less satisfied with the outcome of their job search, and were more pessimistic, stressed, tired, anxious, worried, overwhelmed and depressed.
I was a maximizer when younger, but I've become increasingly more of a satisficer over time. I wouldn't be surprised if that's the natural progression. As I've gotten older, I've come to the realization that only a very, very few things matter (I'll let you figure out what they are). So, I try to be more of a mazimizer for them. In order to do that, I settle for "good enough" in everything else.

How about you?

HT: Marginal Revolution

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