Do you agonize over each decision, then second-guess your final choice? If this sounds like you, you could be a maximizer - and your happiness could be at risk.
The holiday season is a time of temptation and decision making. We’re tempted to overeat, overdrink, overdo, and overspend. And whether we choose to overdo things or keep the insanity to a minimum is a decision we all face. Are you a “maximer” or a “satisficer” when it comes to making decisions?
According to a new research study, the answer to this question could affect your happiness.
Do you agonize over each purchase by googling obsessively, visiting several stores, and discussing it with all of your friends, family members, and coworkers? Then when you finally make the purchase, are you happy with your decision?
When you get home and unwrap your purchase, do you continue to agonize and second-guess yourself? If so, psychologists have dubbed you a maximizer.
On the other hand, do you make a decision, and once it’s made, live with it? If so, you’re a satisficer.
A new study looks at the different ways maximizers and satisficers make choices and their satisfaction with those choices.
"Because maximizers want to be certain they have made the right choice," the authors contend, "they are less likely to fully commit to a decision." Maximizers are less satisfied with their decisions than satisficers are—and that translates into being less happy overall.
Personality trait or state of mind?
Psychologists aren’t sure whether being a maximizer or satisficer is part of our personality or a mindset. Research is focusing on whether high-level maximizers can change their behaviour.
Maximizers live with a lot of stress that could be detrimental to their health. Their penchant for second-guessing extends to all areas of their lives, from what gift to buy for Aunt Myrtle to their choice of car, career, and mate. Even after putting so much thought into decision making, they may still feel unsure of and therefore unhappy with their choice.
One has to wonder if the advent of the Internet, tablets, and smart phones with instant access to more information than ever before hasn’t contributed to maximizers’ difficulty in making decisions and their dissatisfaction with them in the end.
As with everything, moderation in decision making seems to be the key to health and happiness. This holiday season, do your research—but just enough—then accept you made the right choice based on the information you had.