I find words fascinating. Recently I came across the word satisficer while reading an article on happiness. I was immediately intrigued. After a quick Google search (how did we ever learn anything before the internet?) I discovered the word was coined back in 1956 by a social scientist called Herbert Simon. He combined the words ‘satisfying’ and ‘sufficing’ to come up with the term.
What is a satisficer? A satisficer is someone who has a list of criteria and once they find something that meets them will make a decision, and be content with it. These people usually make decisions more quickly than maximisers.
Maximisers are people who want to look at all the options to make sure they get the best. They may not have a list of criteria, just a vague idea of what they are looking for.
When a satisficer goes looking for a jacket he or she will basically know what they want it to look like. They will know how much they are prepared to pay. Once the satisficer has found a jacket with the desired qualities they will buy it and be satisfied with their decision.
The maximiser will want to make the best decision so will try to consider all the options. They will probably not have a list of criteria and will walk all over town looking at jackets. After purchasing one it is quite possible they will be uncertain they made the right choice. Maximisers are more likely to be competitive and need the approval of others.
Many people are satisficers in regard to some decisions and maximisers for others. For example a person may be a maximiser when it comes to purchasing a television but a satisficer in regard to clothes. People are satisficers or maximisers in other areas of life where a choice needs to be made, not just in the area of purchases.
If you are a satisficer in the majority of situations in your life, then you would be classed as a satisficer overall. Satisficers are usually happier than maximisers. They may earn less money than a maximiser but are happier with their job. Their house may be more modest than that of the maximiser but they are satisfied with it and not looking to upgrade.They tend to have more optimism, self esteem and greater life satisfaction.
Maximisers are more likely to be perfectionists, suffer depression and feel regret after making a decision. They may find it difficult to commit in a relationship or settle in a job because they wonder if there is something better out there.
Because maximisers are always looking for something better they tend to be discontented. Our materialistic society encourages people to aim for 'the best' and the word 'settle' has come to mean accepting something below the desired standard. However, the satisficer is content with what they have and happier.
Research is being done to see if it is possible to consciously change from being a maximiser to a satisficer. Meanwhile, I guess one shouldn’t feel bad about making quick decisions and not researching all the options. You just may be happier in life with that approach.