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Psychology researcher finds that second-guessing one's decisions leads to unhappiness
Date:12/15/2011

You're in search of a new coffee maker, and the simple quest becomes, well, an ordeal. After doing copious amounts of research and reading dozens of consumer reviews, you finally make a purchase, only to wonder: "Was this the right choice? Could I do better? What is the return policy?"

Reality check: Is this you?

If so, new research from Florida State University may shed some light on your inability to make a decision that you'll be happy with.

Joyce Ehrlinger, an assistant professor of psychology, has long been fascinated with individuals identified among psychologists as "maximizers." Maximizers tend to obsess over decisions big or small and then fret about their choices later. "Satisficers," on the other hand, tend to make a decision and then live with it.

Happily.

Of course, there are shades of gray. In fact, there's a whole continuum of ways people avoid commitment without really avoiding it.

Ehrlinger's latest research on decision making was published in the peer-reviewed journal Personality and Individual Differences. The paper, "Failing to Commit: Maximizers Avoid Commitment in a Way That Contributes to Reduced Satisfaction," was co-authored with her graduate student, doctoral candidate Erin Sparks, and colleague Richard Eibach, a psychology assistant professor at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada. It examines whether "maximizers show less commitment to their choices than satisficers in a way that leaves them lesssatisfied with their choices."

The paper, based on two studies of Florida State undergraduate volunteers, finds that the maximizers' focus on finding the best option ultimately undermines their commitment to their final choices. As a result, the authors argue, "maximizers miss out on the psychological benefits of commitment," leaving them less satisfied than their more contented counterparts, the satisficers.

Past research into the differences betwe
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Contact: Joyce Ehrlinger
jehrlinger@fsu.edu
850-645-7418
Florida State University
Source:Eurekalert  

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