Are You a Maximizer or a Satisficer? (NSQ Ep. 14)
Also: what is the best question you’ve ever been asked in a job interview?
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Relevant References & Research
Question #1: Is it better to be a maximizer or a satisficer?
- Angela explains that psychologist Herb Simon coined the term “satisficing.” Simon explores the idea in his 1947 book Administrative Behaviour.
- Stephen says that psychologist Barry Schwartz introduced him to the concepts of “maximizing” and “satisficing.” Schwartz developed a simple test to assess a person’s decision-making orientation. The higher your score, the more of a maximizer you are.
- Angela mentions that Schwartz found that, in general, satisficers are happier than maximizers. He writes about this in his 2002 article for the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, “Maximizing versus satisficing: Happiness is a matter of choice.”
- Stephen and Angela discuss the “paradox of choice” as it relates to jam selection. The jam experiment is originally from a 2000 study by psychologists Sheena Iyengar and Mark Lepper, “When Choice is Demotivating: Can One Desire Too Much of a Good Thing?” Schwartz addresses the study in his 2004 book, The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less.
- You can learn more about “the paradox of choice” in Freakonomics Radio Ep. 359, “Should America Be Run by … Trader Joe’s?”
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Question #2: What is the best interview question?
- Angela shares that she had recently been hiring academic researchers for Character Lab. Character Lab is Angela’s nonprofit organization that explores the conditions that lead to social, emotional, academic, and physical well-being for young people throughout the country.
- Angela refers to Stephen’s librarian-versus-salesperson hypothetical as a “Danny Kahneman” question. Kahneman is a professor emeritus at Princeton and a Nobel laureate in economics.
- Stephen explains that Kahneman favors a structured job interview. You can read Kahneman’s full argument for structured interviews in his 2011 New York Times bestseller, Thinking, Fast and Slow.
- If you can’t get enough Kahneman, we recommend listening to Freakonomics Radio Ep. 306, “How to Launch a Behavior-Change Revolution,” which features both Danny Kahneman and Angela Duckworth!