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Thread: Maximiser or Satisficer - survey

  1. #1
    dubaiphil's Avatar
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    Phil Page

    Maximiser or Satisficer - survey

    The quote below came up on another forum today, and it tickled me. Whenever you hear people asking about what camera they should buy etc.

    I guess Leica M users are without a doubt satisficers - otherwise they'd never make such a large financial plunge (I'm not having a go at M shooters - I'm going to be joining you)

    Don't worry, maximisers. Results of the informal survey below may change over time:

    There are two main types of people there are when it comes to making decisions. The first type of person he describes is the "satisficer" someone who makes decisions that are "good enough" that satisfies them. The second type of person is the "maximizer" someone who tries to make the "best" decisions given a certain situation and strives for perfection.

    For example, a satisficer might go to a store looking for a camera that suits his or her needs - and once he/she finds the camera that they find to be reasonably good, they will buy it.

    The maximizer is the type of person that is looking for the "perfect camera" and spends hours agonizing over reviews, sharpness tests, and specification tables.

    Guess who tends to be more regretful/miserable when it comes to making decisions? You guessed it - the maximizer.

    The first concept of "satisficing" came around in the 1950's from Nobel Prize-winning economist and psychologist Herbert Simon. This is how Schwartz describes Simon's position in the book:

    "Simon suggested that when all the costs (in time, money, and anguish) involved in getting information about all the options are factored in, satisfying is, in fact, the maximizing strategy."

    So how do you know if you are a satisficer or a maximizer? Well take this survey below. Write a number from 1-7 (completely agree to completely disagree) and add up the numbers. If your score is 40 or lower, you are a satisficer. If your score is 65 or higher, you are a maximizer.

    Maximization Scale:

    Whenever I'm faced with a choice, I try to imagine what all the other possibilities are, even ones that aren't present at the moment.
    No matter how satisfied I am with my job, it's only right for me to be on the lookout for better opportunities.
    When I am in the car listening to the radio, I often check other stations to see if something better is playing, even if I am relatively satisfied with what I'm listening to.
    When I watch TV, I channel surf, often scanning through the available options even while attempting to watch one program.
    I treat relationships like clothing: I expect to try a lot on before finding the perfect fit.
    I often find it is difficult to shop for a gift for a friend.
    Renting videos is really difficult. I'm alway struggling to pick up the best one.
    When shopping, I have a hard time finding clothing that I really love.
    I'm a big fan of lists that attempt to rank things (the best movies, the best singers, the best athletes, the best novels etc).
    I find that writing is very difficult, even if it's just writing a letter to a friend, because itís so hard to word things just right. I often do several drafts of even simple things.
    No matter what I do, I have the highest standards for myself.
    I never settle for second best.
    I often fantasize about living in ways that are quite different from my actual life.
    (From the American Psychological Association)

    When Schwartz studied the differences between satisficers and maximizers, he found the following tendencies:

    Maximizers engage in more product comparisons than satisficers, both before and after they make purchasing decisions.
    Maximizers take longer than satisficers to decide on a purchase.
    Maximizers spend more time than satisficers comparing their purchasing decisions to the decisions of others.
    Maximizers are more likely to experience regret after a purchase.
    Maximizers are more likely to spend time thinking about hypothetical alternatives to the purchases they've made.
    Maximizers generally feel less positive about their purchasing decisions.
    Not only that, but there was more negative attributes that Schwartz discovered about maximizers:

    Maximizers savor positive events less than satisficers and do not cope as well (by their own admission) with negative events.
    After something bad happens to them, maximizers' sense of well-being takes longer to recover.
    Maximizers tend to brood or ruminate more than satisficers.

  2. #2
    RustBeltRaw's Avatar
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    Re: Maximiser or Satisficer - survey

    Honestly, I don't even have to take that test to know I'm a maximizer. It's either a side effect of being, or the reason I am, an engineer. Constantly evaluating and re-evaluating your decisions can be frustrating, but I think it forces you to fully understand the choice(s) you made, and equips you to provide very competent advice to someone else, even (or especially) if your decision wasn't perfect.

    That being said, I don't agree that maximizers respond more poorly to negative events, or that we brood longer. I think a maximizer is more likely to know their equipment inside-out and backwards, which can be a saving grace when one encounters trouble. I believe it's safe to say that maximizers tend to be more technical, which equips us to take drawbacks in stride rather than agonizing over them.

    As usual, Randall Munroe provides excellent insight into nerdy tendencies.

    Maximiser or Satisficer - survey

  3. #3
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: Maximiser or Satisficer - survey

    Very interesting post! I think that I am a maximiser when choosing equipment (I do a lot of study and research) but I am a satisficer after I have selected the equipment. I don't buy into the theory that "the grass is always greener in the other fellow's yard" and I tend to keep and use my equipment for a long time and I am usually quite happy with it. However, I usually select top-line equipment but, am not always awed by "bells and whistles". I get pretty satisfactory results from my gear but, do like equipment which not only works well but which I enjoy using.

    As an example, I really like the 70-200mm focal length for my 1.6x cameras and use it for a significant portion of my shooting (over 1/3 of my shots are within this focal range). I like the Canon L glass because of the IQ, fast and accurate auto focus and the great build. However, I am perfectly happy with my f/4L IS version and don't look longingly at the f/2.8L IS II lens, even though that lens would occasionally serve me better (like shooting in the Blue Mosque of Istanbul). OTOH, I like the weight and size of my f4L IS and don't bemoan the "white" color of the lens.

    The one venue in which I am a probably a maximiser is in camera bags. I have never found one bag that is perfect for me and which will serve all my needs. As a result, I own a collection of several bags which I use when the occasion demands and one or two which I never use and plan to sell eventually. I do like the Domke F2 bag but have modified it a bit to better suit my needs. I switched the snaps that hold the front flap closed to trigger snaps which are easier for me to operate with one hand. I have also added the Domke U.S. Post Office Shoulder Pad which not only eases the weight of the bag but effectively discourages the trap from sliding off my shoulder. I was just thinking yesterday how efficient and comfortable this pad is and how much I generally like the bag...
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 5th August 2013 at 02:25 PM.

  4. #4

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    Re: Maximiser or Satisficer - survey

    I'm definitely a satisficer. Ironically, it's fortunate that especially in the case of camera equipment, it's my satisficer's buying habits that help maximize my marriage.
    Last edited by Mike Buckley; 5th August 2013 at 02:27 PM.

  5. #5
    tbob's Avatar
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    Trevor Reeves

    Re: Maximiser or Satisficer - survey

    Definitely a Satisficer. One quirk , I don't know if it fits anywhere on the spectrum, is my refusal to buy a cheap or lesser version of an item once I have identified a need for it. I have been refusing to buy a new tripod to replace my bent, and thus ridiculously difficult to extend or retract one leg on, current tripod because I have identified that a Really Right Stuff tripod with no centre column is the best option for what I do. So I struggle on and probably will until I can get to Southern California in early 2014. (I am refusing to pay the high shipping and customs costs)

  6. #6
    Moderator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Manfred Mueller

    Re: Maximiser or Satisficer - survey

    As another glasses wearing, scuba diving, camera carrying engineer, like Lex, what can I do other than to wholeheartedly agree with what he has written and to take exception to the rather black & white view of “satisficier” versus “maximizer”.

    Herbert’s never classified people into these two categories universally, but rather suggested that classical economic theory that assumed people would make decisions to maximize benefits was wrong as people do not have sufficient information, knowledge or pure brain power to make these decisions correctly.

    The extension to classifying people this way, is of course an oversimplification and absurd. A doctor would probably be a maximizer when it comes to recommending a particular treatment for an injury, but would not necessarily have a clue as to what cut of meat to choose at the butchers. A chef, would probably look at the cuts of meat and pick out the best one, but would take the doctor’s recommendation as to the most appropriate medical treatment. It certainly looks like one can be both a maximizer and satisficier at the same time.

    We engineers tend to have a fairly good understanding of technical issues, but more importantly understand that there is no single right answer; compromises and tradeoffs are the very essence of design work . Give us a list of requirements in order or importance, we will be able to come up with a solution to the problem. Change the order of importance, and chances are good that you will get a different answer. We tend to be a pretty realistic and pragmatic lot and can spot sales and marketing blather from a long way away.

    Canon and Nikon cameras target pretty well the same market segments, yet both offer different products that are similar, but not identical. The same could be said of Toyota, Volkswagen and Ford, when it comes to cars. The individual component specifications by themselves are often of fairly minor value; what is important is how the product or product line work as an integrated whole is what counts, regardless of what the sales and advertising people would have us believe.
    Last edited by Manfred M; 5th August 2013 at 11:05 PM.

  7. #7
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Maximiser or Satisficer - survey

    Hi Phil,

    Good post - I scored 56, there are several maximiser things I don't do (some low numbers), and several I do (4 x 7 in there) and a few in the middle.

    The reasons in Richard's and Manfred's posts were the ones I most identified with - but I was an electronics engineer and now work on html, vbscript and sql coding


  8. #8

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    Re: Maximiser or Satisficer - survey

    Dare I suggest that maximisers never get around to taking photos? Seems Randell got here first.
    When I worked for the Public Service the 'three quotes rule' was paramount ... these days I find a provider who I think will deliver the goods and if I think the price reasonable go with them.

  9. #9
    James G's Avatar
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    James Edwards

    Re: Maximiser or Satisficer - survey

    Interesting thread. I'm definitely a Satisficer. Which I've now decided is pretty good since I'm very conscious 'internally' of OCD tendancies to worry/get things absolutely right, and which I worked hard at in my early years to curb.

    Think CiC saved me a trip to the Psych's to get myself straightened out!

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