Satisficers and Maximizers

I want to start my blog today with a point of gratitude:

I felt so thankful last night that there were 57 views for the day on my blog! Out of that, many were Facebook referrals, so thankyou so much to those who contributed to this happening! It was so encouraging for me as a ‘blogger’ and I truly hope that you have been encouraged by the words I humbly write as I share the things I read.


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Whilst talking to a colleague about the topic of choice, and the difficulties it can present for some people, he shared a story. This colleague has twins who went to the Royal Adelaide Show, with $50 each to spend on showbags. One quickly bought a couple of bags and was happy with the purchases.  The other twin walked around for ages, looking, trying to work out the best deal and trying to decide which one they wanted. In the end, that twin went home upset and with no showbags!


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This is such a classic example of the way decision makers can be divided into two rough groups:

Satisficers and Maximizers

Satisficers are those who just get what is good enough.  Options are still considered but there is a minimum requirement that needs to be meet and then the choice can be made and they are generally happy with that.

Maximizers are those who hum and ha, they need to get the absolute best deal and all options are considered. These people find choice overload a problem as the more options that are available, the more things need to be considered.


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Unfortunately maximization does not come cheap (Ilona Boniwell ‘Positive Psychology in a Nutshell page 99). There are 5 areas that Schwartz and Ward, (2004) found impacted negatively for maximizers:

*Regret – what if I regret this decision?

*Opportunity costs – every choice we make has an opportunity cost.

*Escalation of expectations – with more choice one can expect more?!

*Self-blame – combine intensely high expectations with personal responsibility for failure.

*Time – the time spent making the choices could be spent with others.

In all honesty, maximizers usually end up doing better in life, but satisficers feel better.

“This is how more can end up being less, or at least so costly that it’s simply not worth it.” (ibid pg 99)


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(Schwartz has written a book “The paradox of choice, why more is less”.)

Schwartz and Ward then go on to suggest some useful pointers for us all when it comes to choice:

*We can learn to satisfice more and accept ‘good enough’.

*We can lower our expectations. (Unfulfilled but reasonably high expectations are the yellow brick road to depression.)

*We can avoid social comparisons and set our own standards.

*We can regret less and be grateful for what is good in life.

*We can choose the times for being a maximizer.

*We should stick to our choices and not change our minds.

*We can learn to love constraints – perhaps some constraints are blessings?


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As I read this I thought of myself and which label I usually fall under.  I understand that it is not good to ‘box’ ourselves and that we are often a combination of both. But, how can this knowledge of choice help us practically? I was thinking that it can enable me to help my own kids and kids in class when you see them stressing because of the choices in front of them.  It is great to know that there are different strategies that can be used!

Finally let’s remember choice only increases freedom up to a certain point, beyond which it actually restricts freedom.
(ibid pg 101)


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9 thoughts on “Satisficers and Maximizers

  1. What a relief to know half the population is a maximiser like me. I thought I was alone! I have long recognised my son’s difficulty with decision making, but have only now realised where he may have inherited his condition from. My satisfiers daughter make decision making seem a breeze. Thank you Rebekah for this cathartic blog.


    • I am so happy that it was cathartic! It brings such joy to me to know some of this sharing is making a difference. I am surprised that you find choices hard, that is something I didn’t pick in you. Speaking of choices and decision making, did you get a new car? love R x


  2. Thanks for this Rebekah. You hear people say, ‘I am keeping my options open’. ‘I will come if there is nothing else to do.’
    Are we afraid we might miss out? Are we afraid of being a failure, and so don’t make up our minds?


    • I think you are right, some times we don’t want to miss out on what we think will be the most ‘fun’. I haven’t really thought of it from a failure point of view, but I can see what you mean. Failure is something we are often scared of and something we rarely put ourselves in a situation for!
      Food for thought! Thanks. Love Rebekah x


  3. Great Nlog Mum! I liked it and was an easy one to understand. 🙂
    I really don’t know if I’m a satisfier or a maximizer.
    Love You lots, love Noah oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo
    🙂 😉 🙂


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