Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Choice Angst

My mother forwarded me one of the more interesting pieces I've read in a long time, and I think that a lot of the readership here will appreciate this one. It's titled So Many Choices in Life, So Much Angst, and it essentially argues, based on a study published in Scientific American, that people are better off just making choices rather than spending all their time debating them or trying to find "better" ones. A choice quote:
...when it comes to making decisions, people fall somewhere on the spectrum between two extremes: " 'maximizers' (those who always aim to make the best possible choice) and 'satisficers' (those who aim for 'good enough,' whether or not better selections might be out there)." In the end, the article said, maximizers are usually less content than satisficers with their final decisions -- they have regrets about what they might have had with one of the other options. The more options there are, the more opportunity cost there is and the more chance for regrets.
We've discussed this before on this blog, but it's interesting to see it spelled out in a study like this. Read the whole piece, it's interesting.


  1. I've heard these terms before - important concept, good article about it.

    I think not letting "the perfect be the enemy of the good" (I think there's a quote like that?) is a crucial middah, but I'm not sure to what extent it can be learned.

  2. In his movie production of the play, Olivier boiled down Hamlet to the story of a man who could not make up his mind. That is a bit of an oversimplified view, but it is Hamlet's failing to keep checking and testing before deciding on a course of action until the end. I do find having to make choices constantly somewhat stressful, and that includes everyday choices like what to prepare for supper and what to buy to make for Shabbos.

  3. the story of a man who could not make up his mind..

    He didn't even know whether to be or not to be, so...