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

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  • Arne Roets
  • Barry Schwartz
  • Yanjun Guan

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Arne Roets & Barry Schwartz & Yanjun Guan, 2012. "The tyranny of choice: a cross-cultural investigation of maximizing-satisfising effects on well-being," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 7(6), pages 689-704, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:jdm:journl:v:7:y:2012:i:6:p:689-704
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Liu, Zhiqiang, 2005. "Institution and inequality: the hukou system in China," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 133-157, March.
    2. 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.
    3. Sonja Lyubomirsky & Heidi Lepper, 1999. "A Measure of Subjective Happiness: Preliminary Reliability and Construct Validation," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 46(2), pages 137-155, February.
    4. 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.
    5. 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).
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:jdm:journl:v:13:y:2018:i:1:p:123-136 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Nathan N. Cheek & Barry Schwartz, 2016. "On the meaning and measurement of maximization," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 11(2), pages 126-146, March.
    3. repec:spr:jhappi:v:19:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s10902-016-9816-z is not listed on IDEAS

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    Keywords

    well-being; maximizing; choice; cross-cultural.;

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