Happiness and psychological well-being 43
According to the psychologist Barry Schwartz there are two
types of choosers: maximisers and satisﬁers.
The agony of maximising choice
If you are a maximiser, you will spend hours assessing and com-
paring all options, trying to ﬁnd the right choice that maximises all
scenarios. If you are choosing shoes, for instance, you will try on
every pair of the style you want in your price range before making
your purchase on the grounds of value for money, comfort, fashion
and utility. You will probably make a very well-informed decision
but you are also less likely to be completely satisﬁed.
What is it like to live as a maximiser with the amount of choice
we have around us today? Shoes or a healthy yogurt are simple
commodities to choose compared with where you live, what car
you drive, what career you choose, what insurance you need,
where you want to go on holiday, what school you send your
children to or who you spend your life with. Looking at all the
options is not only exhausting and time consuming but if, after
investing all the time and effort, you make a wrong decision,
regret and self-reproach can be a further burden to bear.
The joy of being satisﬁed
If on the other hand you are a satisﬁer, choosing is a more
functional action, decision making reﬂects current needs, and
options help to meet the minimum requirement. Satisﬁers may
Changing your mind doesn’t make you happy
After being asked to choose only one of two meaningful photographs
as a keepsake of their time at university, the group of students who
had a minute to choose and were not allowed to change their minds
were happier with their choice a year later than those who had been
given a three-month delay before making their ﬁnal choice.