IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

The tyranny of choice: a cross-cultural investigation of maximizing-satisfising effects on well-being

  • Arne Roets
  • Barry Schwartz
  • Yanjun Guan
Registered author(s):

    The present research investigated the relationship between individual differences in maximizing versus satisficing (i.e., seeking to make the single best choice, rather than a choice that is merely good enough) and well-being, in interaction with the society in which an individual lives. Data from three distinct cultural groups (adults), drawn respectively from the U.S. (N=307), Western Europe (N=263), and China (N=218), were analyzed. The results showed that, in societies where choice is abundant (i.e., U.S. and Western Europe), maximizers reported less well-being than satisficers, and this difference was mediated by experienced regret. However, in the non-western society (China), maximizing was unrelated to well-being. Although in China maximizing was associated with more experiences of regret, regret had no substantial relationship to well-being. These patterns also emerged for the individual facets of the maximizing scale, although with a notable difference between the U.S. and Europe for the High Standards facet. It is argued that, in societies where abundant individual choice is highly valued and considered the ultimate route to personal happiness, maximizers' dissatisfaction and regret over imperfect choices is a detrimental factor in well-being, whereas it is a much less crucial determinant of well-being in societies that place less emphasis on choice as the way to happiness.

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Article provided by Society for Judgment and Decision Making in its journal Judgment and Decision Making.

    Volume (Year): 7 (2012)
    Issue (Month): 6 (November)
    Pages: 689-704

    in new window

    Handle: RePEc:jdm:journl:v:7:y:2012:i:6:p:689-704
    Contact details of provider:

    References listed on IDEAS
    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

    as in new window
    1. Sonja Lyubomirsky & Heidi Lepper, 1999. "A Measure of Subjective Happiness: Preliminary Reliability and Construct Validation," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 46(2), pages 137-155, February.
    2. Simona Botti & Kristina Orfali & Sheena S. Iyengar, 2009. "Tragic Choices: Autonomy and Emotional Responses to Medical Decisions," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 36(3), pages 337 - 352.
    3. Hye Bin Rim & Brandon M. Turner & Nancy E. Betz & Thomas E. Nygren, 2011. "Studies of the dimensionality, correlates, and meaning of measures of the maximizing tendency," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 6(6), pages 565-579, August.
    4. Liu, Zhiqiang, 2005. "Institution and inequality: the hukou system in China," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 133-157, March.
    5. Benjamin Scheibehenne & Rainer Greifeneder & Peter M. Todd, 2010. "Can There Ever Be Too Many Options? A Meta-Analytic Review of Choice Overload," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 37(3), pages 409-425, October.
    6. Raymond Fisman & Sheena S. Iyengar & Emir Kamenica & Itamar Simonson, 2006. "Gender Differences in Mate Selection: Evidence From a Speed Dating Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(2), pages 673-697.
    7. Joseph Henrich & Steve J. Heine & Ara Norenzayan, 2010. "The Weirdest People in the World?," Working Paper Series of the German Council for Social and Economic Data 139, German Council for Social and Economic Data (RatSWD).
    8. Hazel Rose Markus & Barry Schwartz, 2010. "Does Choice Mean Freedom and Well-Being?," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 37(2), pages 344-355, 08.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:jdm:journl:v:7:y:2012:i:6:p:689-704. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Jonathan Baron)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.