Alex's recent review of
Maximizers are people who always try to choose the best thing. They want the best toothpaste, the best car, the best significant other, the best dreams at night. Satisficers will take the first thing that matches their requirements. They want clean teeth, and therefore choose the first toothpaste that they believe will do the job. They want to get to work, and buy the first car that will take them there. Or maybe they've got different requirements but it's a different way to go about things. A satisficer with really high requirements will in practice probably act a lot like a maximizer.
Amazon's Gold Box is a good game to think about in terms of maximizers and satisficers... sorta. Well, you can take the deal offered right in front of you or PASS FOREVER and take a chance on the next offer. In reality, about 100% of the time I don't see any deals that look tempting, but if every deal looked tempting then it would help me determine if I'm a maximizer or a satisficer. A satisficer would take the first tempting deal. A maximer would have a much more difficult game to play because they would have to weigh the level of temptation that they're currently enduring versus the chances that something more tempting might come up in the remaining offers. The odd and dangerous part is that in the beginning, the chances of something more tempting coming up later are much higher than they are when you're closer to the end. However, the chance that the most tempting thing is at the end is equal to the chance that the most tempting thing is at the beginning. So what I'm guessing happens is that maximizers would be most likely to buy the 6th or 7th item in the 10 item sequence, as the probabilities of the future shrink to the point that they are smaller than the fear of running out of options. I wish words could draw little pictures...
So we probably all have a little maximizer in us... question is, what do we do with him/her? The little guy that tells us that the first relationship we ever get in is most likely not the best on that you might have ever gotten in. The one that tells you to quit that job that you got right out of college because what are the chances that the first job you got is really the best one? Can we suppress the maximizer in us and encourage the satisficer in us to try and find out what our requirements for happiness really are and completely cut off that voice to wait until all options have been considered before making a decision? Because the problem with waiting for the best is that we can't recognize the best. You can't solve a problem when you don't know how to recognize the answer. On the other hand, the satisficers have a clear solution-recognition algorithm: does it meet these requirements? Yes, then we're good. No, then move on.
The maximizer will then say to the satisficer, "How do you know your requirements are the best requirements to have?" Which, of course, is a trick question! Damn maximizer, trying to bring the idea of best back into the equation... that stinking filthy element. Am I talking to myself? I can't tell. Whatever. The satisficer should say back, "My requirements for my requirements are self-justified. They are the best because they are what I decided to use after using enough time to decide upon them." But the satisficer is not satisfied. The unknown is still lurking behind every word... what would the requirements be if he had spent a little more time thinking about them? Would they be substantially different, and result in a completely different eventual match? The maximizer wins by using the circular "how do you know" argument. The satisficer can only win by answering each question with "because." And I remember as a kid driving my parents mad by asking "why?" to each explanation they gave... it works for any question. And if a kid can beat parents down with such a simple tactic, so can the maximizer beat the satisficer down.
Luckily, the brain short circuits and you stop thinking about it. When you're not thinking about it, the satisficer has free reign to put his/her program into place and get you on your way to making decisions in a productive manner. But it's all under the table, it makes you feel a little guilty, because if the thinking police ever came around and thoroughly questioned you on your behaviour, you would get stuck again in that why/because circle of endless torment.
I promise to stop taking flu medicine as soon as this stupid illness goes away.