Second-guessing linked to unhappiness

Dec. 15, 2011 at 8:54 PM

TALLAHASSEE, Fla., Dec. 15 (UPI) -- Fretting over which coffee maker to buy or second-guessing oneself over a house one has bought may be a recipe for unhappiness, U.S. researchers say.

Joyce Ehrlinger, an assistant professor of psychology Florida State University, said individuals identified among psychologists as "maximizers," tend to obsess over decisions -- big or small -- and then fret about their choices later, while "satisficers," tend to make a decision and live with it.

Ehrlinger, doctoral candidate Erin Sparks, and Richard Eibach, a psychology assistant professor at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, found the maximizers' focus on finding the best option ultimately undermines their commitment to their final choices. As a result, they miss out on psychological benefits of commitment," leaving them less satisfied than their more contented counterparts -- the satisficers.

"Because maximizers want to be certain they have made the right choice, they are less likely to fully commit to a decision, and most likely, they are less happy in their everyday lives," the study authors said in a statement. "Current research is trying to understand whether they can change. High-level maximizers certainly cause themselves a lot of grief."

The study, published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, said a maximizer's lack of contentment creates a lot of stress, so the trait could potentially have an enormous effect on health.

Even after considerable deliberation, a high-level maximizer may still feel unhappy, even depressed, with his or her final decision, the study said.

"Identifying the 'right' choice can be a never-ending task," Ehrlinger said. "Maximizers might be unable to fully embrace a choice because they cannot be absolutely certain they chose the best possible option."

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more news from
Related UPI Stories
share with facebook
share with twitter
Trending Stories