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maximizer

Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore

A maximizer is an individual who consistently seeks the optimal outcome for any endeavor. Maximizers tend to be perfectionists but the terms maximizer and maximizing are particularly associated with decision-making processes rather than describing a generally uncompromising approach to life.

Maximizers tend to prolong decisions because they are driven to identify the most perfect option possible. That means that they usually end up making the best possible choices. On the other hand, information gathering, research, analysis and comparisons can become protracted and the decision-making process can consume more time and other resources than is warranted. Furthermore, maximizers tend to continue overthinking decisions after they’ve been made, so that they are often unsatisfied with their choices in the end.

Maximizers can be so overwhelmed by the difficulty of making decisions that they get bogged down completely at some point in their exhaustive process. According to Barry Schwartz, author of “The Paradox of Choice,” analysis paralysis can delay decisions when maximizers are unable to settle on an option. Because decision-making is such an exhaustive process for maximizers, they may also procrastinate, further prolonging the task and hampering their productivity.

In 1957, psychologist Herbert Simon identified maximizers as one type of decision maker. The other type, which he called satisficers, are pragmatic about decisions and tend to be content with choices that simply meet their requirements.

This was last updated in February 2019

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