Week+4+required+Schwartz+et+al++2002++happiness+is+a+matter+of+choice

Week+4+required+Schwartz+et+al++2002++happiness+is+a+matter+of+choice

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Maximizing Versus Satisficing: Happiness Is a Matter of Choice Barry Schwartz and Andrew Ward Swarthmore College John Monterosso University of Pennsylvania Sonja Lyubomirsky University of California, Riverside Katherine White and Darrin R. Lehman University of British Columbia Can people feel worse off as the options they face increase? The present studies suggest that some people—maximizers—can. Study 1 reported a Maximization Scale, which measures individual differ- ences in desire to maximize. Seven samples revealed negative correlations between maximization and happiness, optimism, self-esteem, and life satisfaction, and positive correlations between maximization and depression, perfectionism, and regret. Study 2 found maximizers less satisfied than nonmaximizers (satisficers) with consumer decisions, and more likely to engage in social comparison. Study 3 found maximizers more adversely affected by upward social comparison. Study 4 found maximizers more sensitive to regret and less satisfied in an ultimatum bargaining game. The interaction between maxi- mizing and choice is discussed in terms of regret, adaptation, and self-blame. Rational choice theory has tried to explain preference and choice by assuming that people are rational choosers (von Neu- mann & Morgenstern, 1944). According to the rational choice framework, human beings have well-ordered preferences—prefer- ences that are essentially impervious to variations in the way the alternatives they face are described or the way in which they are packaged or bundled. The idea is that people go through life with all their options arrayed before them, as if on a buffet table. They have complete information about the costs and benefits associated with each option. They compare the options with one another on a single scale of preference, or value, or utility. And after making the comparisons, people choose so as to maximize their preferences, or values, or utilities. Although the science of economics has historically depended on the tenets of rational choice theory, it is now well established that many of the psychological assumptions underlying rational choice theory are unrealistic and that human beings routinely violate the principles of rational choice (e.g., J. Baron, 2000; Kahneman & Tversky, 1979, 1984; Tversky, 1969; Tversky & Kahneman, 1981; for a discussion, see Schwartz, 1986, 1994). In particular, modern behavioral economics has acknowledged that the assumption of complete information that characterizes rational choice theory is implausible. Rather than assuming that people possess all the relevant information for making choices, choice theorists treat information itself as a “commodity,” something that has a price (in time or money), and is thus a candidate for consumption along with more traditional goods (e.g., Payne, 1982; Payne, Bettman, & Johnson, 1993).
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