We are all faced with increasing pressure to make well-judged decisions about every aspect of our lives.
Make the correct choice and you can give yourself a pat on the back. But make a bad decision and you can be left with feelings of regret, punishing yourself for picking an inferior option without the benefit of hindsight.
Your decision-making style will likely fit into one of two categories: Maximizer or Satisficer. I touched on these in my last article: ‘Good Enough is Good Enough.’
You might ask what’s the difference between the two decision-making styles. I have broken it down for you…
Satisficer Vs. Maximizer
Maximizer – Yearns for Perfection.
They task themselves with making the most informed, intelligent decisions by weighing all the choices. They can often suffer under the pressure of high self-expectations.
High achievers fall into the peculiar trap of getting mentally caught up in what they haven’t done. There’s always something else to be working on because it feels like, the more you do, the more you gain an edge. Setting unachievable goals for ourselves may itself impede our ultimate goal when making choices – making a choice that we will be satisfied with.
By focusing too hard on maximizing your productivity and choices can come at an ultimate cost to your time, health, and happiness. Maximizers also prone to experiencing a sense of ‘buyer’s remorse’ following a decision, doubting whether it was correct, and envisaging how life would have been had they chosen a different path.
The U.S. Nobel Prize-winning economist Herbert A. Simon introduced the ‘satisficing’ concept in his 1959 paper, Rational choice and the structure of the environment.
Simon believed that when satisficers are presented with a decision to make, they will consider what they want to gain or preserve from a situation, then evaluate their options to find the solution that meets their requirements.
When choosing a car to purchase a satisficer will consider the use of the vehicle (e.g. long commute to work), fuel efficiency, and would like the seats to be heated. When given multiple choices they will often choose the one that meets the initial decision-making criteria, without the extra lavish additional expenses (e.g. spacious interior that costs at little more).
Where maximizers might be led astray by unnecessary gimmicks and ostentation, these do not tempt a satisficer.
What approach do you take when tasked to make a decision? Test your decision-making approach – answer the quiz questions below!
QUIZ: Are You a Maximizer, or a Satisficer?
This quiz was developed by Barry Schwartz, Swarthmore College psychology professor as a way to determine your decision-making style. It may vary depending on what’s at stake.
For each statement, score yourself on a scale of 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree). The higher your score, the more of a maximizer you are.
1. No matter how satisfied I am with my job, it’s only right for me to be on the lookout for better opportunities.
2. 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.
3. When I watch ‘TV, I channel surf, often scanning through the available options even while attempting to watch one Program.
4. I treat relationships like clothing: I expect to try a lot on before finding the perfect fit.
5. I often find it difficult to stop for a gift for a friend.
6. Renting videos is really difficult. I’m always struggling to pick the best one.
7. When shopping, I have a hard time finding clothing that I really love.
8. I’m a big fan of lists that attempt to rank things (the best movies, the best singers, the best athletes, the best novels, etc).
9. I find that writing is very difficult, even if it, just writing a letter to a friend, because of it, so hard to word things just right I often do several drafts of even simple things.
10. I never settle for second best.
11. 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
12. I often fantasize about living in ways that are Quite different from my actual life.
13. No matter what I do, I have the highest standards for myself.
If your score is over 65, you tend to maximize. If your score is below 40, you are more of a satisficer. Schwartz says the test was given to thousands of people and the high score was 75.
Tell us in the comment section below your result and if you agree with the assessment or not.
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