Decision-making

Why Making Decisions Stresses Some People Out

Canadian researchers have identified a common, avoidable stressor in some people’s decision-making process: Fear of a Better Option (FOBO). The team published their research online this month in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

Psychologists Jeffrey Hughes and Abigail A. Scholer of the University of Waterloo were curious about the type of person experts call a “maximizer”: that is, somebody who researches and considers every possible option before making a decision. “The general mindset of this type of person is something like, ‘I don’t want to do anything until I’ve figured out the right thing to do,’” Hughes told Real Simple. Hughes and Scholer conducted two different studies in the hopes of understanding the maximizer mindset.

For the “promotion-focused” maximizer, every choice hinges on whether or not it will help the individual gain social or financial status. These folks are generally able to make a choice and move on. “Assessment-focused” maximizers, on the other hand, have a difficult time letting go of any option, and may find themselves obsessing over choices they had initially ruled out.

They found that…