When you have to decide, and you do not see the forest for the trees…
Do you know what type of decision-maker you are?

In his book, The Paradox of Choice, the American psychologist Barry Schwartz describes how modern man is overwhelmed by the constant need to make decisions under an overflow of information and options.

The more options, the higher the probability that we “find the right one”. At the same time, this diversity does not make us happier, almost during the decision-making process we feel remorse having made this or that decision.

Counteracting this effect through more conscious decision making is of limited help: After all, brooding is the problem in the decision-making process.

It is more helpful to know what “decision type” you are. Schwartz distinguishes here between “maximizers” and “satisficers”.


Have an all-or-nothing attitude. Before buying, they meticulously study product tests and field reports, and they search for the best offer until everyone is exhausted. They often expect everyone around them to feel the same perfectionist urge. Despite the effort they put into their decision making, maximizers are still plagued by doubts. There could be a better offer out there somewhere.

This makes maximizers more susceptible to decision paralysis, the postponement and evasion of decisions already mentioned. Compared to the frugal ones, they objectively make better decisions, but also tend to be more dissatisfied. Their great advantage is that they do not give up so quickly and strive to get the best out of everything.


Have accepted that they can’t always get the best in life. Someone like that believes that good is entirely enough. That’s why these decision-making types only search until they find an option that meets their standards. In doing so, they consider that from a certain point on, an endless gathering of information does not get them any further, but only makes them work harder. Subsequent doubts are somewhat foreign to them. This does not mean, however, that they are less ambitious than the maximizers. They know what they want and what is enough for them.

Which type are you?

Please read the following statements carefully through us rate them on a scale of 1 (don’t agree at all) to 7 (consent).

  1. In my mind, I always play through all the possibilities. Whether or not these can also be implemented is another matter.
  2. Although I am satisfied with my job, I keep my eyes open for other offers.
  3. On TV I always change the channel, even when I am watching a show.
  4. I always jump back and forth between internet pages when I surf the net.
  5. My relationships never last. I just haven’t found the right person.
  6. If I must choose, I need time. It takes me time to decide on something.
  7. It’s tough for me to choose a movie. It’s got to be worth the money for the ticket.
  8. It takes time to buy clothes. I rarely find anything that meets my standards.
  9. I love rankings like the ‘Spiegel’ bestseller list.
  10. When I write a birthday card, I never find the right words and rethink the sentences several times.
  11. TV, coffee machine, car – only the best is good enough.
  12. In everything I do, I set the highest standards for myself.
  13. I like to imagine what my life would have been like if some things had turned out differently.

Please add up your numbers and divide this sum by 13:

If your value is 4.75 or higher, you belong to the “maximizers”.

If your value is 3.25 or below, you belong to the “frugal” group.

If your value is between 3.25 and 4.75, you are a mixed type.

Both types have their advantages and disadvantages. So, there is no “right or wrong” here.

When making tough decisions, it’s wise to be aware of your type, pause for a moment and maybe even try to act a little like the other type.

Barry Schwartz, Anleitung zur Unzufriedenheit; Ullstein Paperback 2006Jochen
 Mai, Why I went out to buy milk and came home on a bicycle; DTV 2016

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