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Option:/ˈɒpʃ(ə)n/ a thing that is or may be chosen
In life, having options or alternatives to choose between is good. Having the right amount of alternatives is good. Too many alternatives and you end up confused and overwhelmed. Good luck to you if you are a maximizer.
Choice overload is a case of having too many options to choose from that you get confused or do not know what to choose.
Let’s say you stroll down to your neighbourhood store to get ice cream. This store has three flavours — vanilla, chocolate and strawberry — you simply choose your favourite or next favourite, or you don’t buy at all.
However, if you go to a mall with the biggest ice cream shop in the city, and they have 25 different flavours out of which you’ve never tasted 17. You might want to try out a new flavour, or simply stick with the one you’ve already tasted and liked. What will you do?
There are two types of people in this scenario:
A maximizer is a person who seeks out the most optimal (maximum utility) outcome when making a decision.
Therefore, maximizes tend to look for the “best” choice to make. In this case, the maximizer (if he’s like me) would probably apply the famous explore-exploit tradeoff. 1
The explore-exploit tradeoff, somewhat known as the secretary problem, tries to optimize for the best possible outcome when faced with options. To either double down on an option or try out a new one.
Do you try out a new flavour (explore) or take the flavour you are already familiar with (exploit)?
On the other side, a person is a Satisficer when he/she seeks out to make a decision that is “good enough” and fulfils their desired criteria instead of making the best decision.
This is the path to regret minimization. This person tries to reduce the pain of regrets in the future.
They simply say this is my standard and anything above it is icing on the cake. A satisficer is more likely to choose the same flavour that he already likes (exploit) than to try a new flavour, even if choosing a new flavour will lead him to discover the best flavour he’d ever have.
There is no right or wrong in both cases, it is simply a way of looking at why we/others choose what we choose. A person can be a maximizer in one aspect of their life and a satisficer in another aspect of their life. It all depends on what they are optimizing for.
The internet feels empowering and at the same time, it feels overwhelming because of too many options. You can be anyone and do anything yet it is so hard to do anything.
Similarly, we suffer from too many options in our relationships. We can simply swipe left and jump to the next person available. So, why bother putting so much effort, after all the relationship might not go anywhere.
PS: In Finance, options are a financial instrument that gives the holder the right but not the obligation buy/sell an asset.
A simplified scenario will look like this:
I see a house I’d like to buy, but I’m still scouting for houses in case I see a better one. But I don’t want this house to be sold off, because I may not find any better house out there. So I buy an option. The option gives me the right but not the obligation to buy the house.
This means two things, that:
- the house is “off the market” and waiting to be finalized as a house sold to me if I eventually exercise my right (a fancy way of saying I choose to buy).
- I can’t be forced to buy the house if I decide not to exercise the right
If options sound interesting, you can read more here.