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Indecisiveness can lead to unhappiness in everyday life

Heather Rudow December 16, 2011

(Photo:Flickr/hang_in_there)

Do you have trouble fully committing to a decision, whether it’s choosing a new pair of shoes or a restaurant for dinner, and then end up feeling unsatisfied after finally choosing? Florida State University researchers would call you a “maximizer,” — they would also say that this inability to commit can lead to future unhappiness. The paper, “Failing to Commit: Maximizers Avoid Commitment in a Way That Contributes to Reduced Satisfaction,” examines whether “maximizers show less commitment to their choices than satisficers in a way that leaves them less satisfied with their choices.”

According to the authors, “maximizers miss out on the psychological benefits of commitment,” leaving them less satisfied than people who commit to one thing with no regrets, also known as “satisficers.”

“Because maximizers want to be certain they have made the right choice,” the authors continue, “they are less likely to fully commit to a decision.”

This can then translate into unhappiness in their everyday lives. The researchers contend that maximizers’ indecisiveness can impact serious life choices, like choosing a life partner, buying a house or applying for a job. And, even after making a decision, maximizers might still feel unhappy or depressed afterwards, so they tend to avoid commitment.

“Identifying the ‘right’ choice can be a never-ending task [for a maximizer],” the authors write. “Feelings about which option is best can always change in the face of new information. Maximizers might be unable to fully embrace a choice because they cannot be absolutely certain they chose the best possible option.”

Source: Florida State University

Heather Rudow is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Email her at hrudow@counseling.org.

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