I want to focus on Maximization. Below is a cartoon about maximizers.
Published in The New Yorker 9/18/2000 by Leo Cullum
What is a maximizer? A maximizer is one who only seeks and accepts the best. They are the people who check out all the options before making any choice. They often take a long time before making a choice and will compare purchase decisions to choices others have made.
Even when they have made a choice, they worry that that was not the right option or may feel less satisfied and less positive with the choice they have made. They may also experience regret after a purchase or choice. Maximizers also don't cope with negative events well, take longer to recover from these events, and will ruminate about their experiences.
Many would think being a maximizer would be a good thing, but it can pay a price. A number of problems can occur with those who are maximizers, including feeling less happy, more regret, being more perfectionistic, and feeling an overload of choices. In the book, Sachwartz outlines a few studies that represented this.
Then there are individuals who are what Schwartz calls Satisificers. They are people who do check out options but settle for good enough or excellent but not necessarily the best. They don't worry about the choice they have made or that there might have been something better.
Compared with maximizers, satisficers take less time comparing and purchasing products. They do not seem to compare their decisions as much to others. They usually feel more positive about their choices and experience less regret than their counterparts.
Schwartz in general says how we should all strive to become more satisficers. However, he also realizes that it's also about acceptance too. For many people, they are "domain specific" of when they will be a maximizer or a satisficer. And that's really okay. It's when it becomes a point of real hindrance that there is a problem and it needs to be worked on.
Personally, for me, I was taught to always want the best out of life, that being number one, going to the best college, etc. was important. None of those things happened, and it left me feeling like I was "settling" for second best, second rate, that it wasn't enough, that I wasn't enough. I still have a really hard time with choices. I am positive I suffer from the overloading of choices phenomenon which has left me at a standstill at times. It's something I am working on and trying to realize that sometimes the best isn't all it's cut out to be. I know and have accepted that there will be certain things in life that I will always be a maximizer, but over the years, I have lessened it to a degree, especially with food/household items. I think a large part of that was financial to be honest, but also realizing that even those things that may have been second rate to me, I've come to actually just be satisfied with.
Here's a Maximization Test reprinted in the book, The Paradox of Choice courtesy via APA. Where do you fall on the Maximization Scale?
Ratings are from 1 (completely disagree) to 7 (completely agree) Scores can range from 13 to 91. A score of 65 or higher is on the maximization side. A score of 30 or lower is on the satisficing side.
1. Whenever I'm faced with a choice, I try to imagine what all the other possibilities are, even ones that aren't
present at the moment.
2. No matter how satisfied I am with my job, it's only right for me to be on the lookout for better opportunities.
3. 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.
4. When I watch tv, I channel surf, often scanning through the available options even while attempting to watch
5. I treat relationships like clothing; I expect to try a lot on before finding the perfect fit.
6. I often find it difficult to shop for a gift for a friend.
7. Renting videos is really difficult. I'm alway struggling to pick the best one.
8. When shopping, I have a hard time finding clothing that I really love.
9. I'm a big fan of lists that attempt to rank things (the best movies, the best singers, the best athletes, the best
10. I find writing is very difficult, even if it's just writing a letter to a friend, because it's so hard to word things just
right. I often do several drafts of even simple things.
11. No matter what I do, I have the highest standards for myself.
12. I never settle for second best.
13. I often fantasize about living in ways that are quite different from my actual life.