Endless Curiosity

January 27, 2009

Good Enough is the new Perfect

Filed under: Psychology — Alec @ 6:39 am

As the saying goes, there are three types of people, those who can count, and those who can’t. Okay, that was a joke, because according to Barry Schwartz there are two types of people, satisficers and maximizers (although I prefer the term used by some people, sufficers, rather than the awkward satisficers). Schwartz is well known for his book, The Paradox of Choice, and here’s a video of him talking on this subject at TED (you can also download the video there). In an interview about his book, he responded to the question, “What can customers do to avoid the paradox of choice?” with the following answer:

Most importantly, learn that “good enough is good enough.” It’s what I call “satisficing” in the book. You don’t need the best; probably never do. On rare occasions it’s worth struggling to find the best. But generally it makes life simpler if you settle with “good enough.” You don’t have to make an exhaustive search – just until you find something that meets your standards, which could be high. But the only way to find the absolute best is to look at ALL the possibilities. And in that case you’ll either give up, or if you choose one, you’ll be nagged by the possibility that you may have found something better. We have evidence about this, by the way. People who are out to find the very best job (“maximizers”) feel worse than people who settle for good enough. We’ve tracked them through and after college. Maximizers did better financially – they found starting salaries that paid $7,000 more than satisficers’ starting salary. But by every other measure – depression, stress, anxiety, satisfaction with their job – maximizers felt worse.

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