When it comes to choices, are you a satisficer or a maximizer?
I'm very guilty of this. I make quick choices. I knew right away that my husband was the right one, and I've taken jobs on nothing more than liking the interviewer.
But a new study says the quick choice may be not such a good thing. According to newswise.com, the quick choice might be a way of avoiding choice at all, when you're overloaded with decisions to make.
Newswise gives as an example a popular streaming service that boasts a film inventory approaching 4,000 titles. "When it’s time to pick a movie, are you more likely to quickly make a decision or meticulously sift through the possibilities?"
Psychologists refer to those who search minimally for something to arrive at an adequate choice as “satisficers.” It’s the “maximizers,” meantime, who search exhaustively for what might be considered as the perfect option, the web site reports.
Some studies have said that satisficing is a more psychologically healthy alternative and even something to aspire to. "And why not? Spending about as much time choosing a movie as it takes to actually watch it seems like the agonizing reality of someone incapable of choosing from a constellation of options," newswise points out.
But new research from the University at Buffalo that measured cardiovascular responses in the moment of making a choice, rather than after-the-fact, suggests the opposite: It’s the satisficers who feel incapable, and what appears to be a speedy certainty might instead be a defense from having to think too deeply about the choices being presented to them.
“We might assume maximizers are having a negative experience in the moment, obsessing over the perfect choice. But it appears to be the satisficers – and that might be why they’re satisficing,” newswise quotes Thomas Saltsman, a psychology researcher in the UB College of Arts and Sciences and the paper’s lead author. “We found evidence that compared to maximizers, satisficers exhibited cardiovascular threat responses consistent with evaluating themselves as less capable of managing their choice in the moment.”
I know I don't like it when I have a lot of choices so I tend to make them quickly. Clearly, I'm a satisficer, which fits in with the rest of my life as I try to please (too many) people at a time.
But there's a real danger in this. “Anyone who has had the experience of maximizing and thought about the energy and stress saved by satisficing might want to rethink that position,” says Mark Seery, an associate professor of psychology at UB, and one of the paper’s co-authors. “There’s a time and a place for satisficing, but people who do so as a defense against the agony of choice might not be prepared to make critical decisions when they have to.”
Saltsman says satisficers may search minimally through their options not because they are less particular or simply care less about their choices than maximizers, but because they feel incapable of choosing from so many options. That's me, in a nutshell!
“What we did find is that satisficers exhibited greater threat,” he says. “It presents a novel view of satisficing, one that is more defensive, uncomfortable and reactionary in nature, rather than easy, expedient and carefree.”
So what should you do if you're a satisficer? Think more carefully about your decision, and don't rush to it.