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The Agony of Perfectionism - Derek Thompson - The Atlantic
"The fortress of classic economics was built on the slushy marsh of rational consumer theory. The once-popular belief that we all possess every relevant piece of information to make choices about buying fridges, TVs, or whatever, has since given way to a less commendable, but more accurate, description of buyers, which is that we basically have no freaking clue what we're doing most of the time. Prices, marketing, discounts, even the layout of store and shelves: They're all hazards strewn about the obstacle course of decision-making, tripping us up, blocking our path, and nudging us toward choices that are anything but rational.

Today, rather than consider consumers to be a monolith of reason, some economists and psychologists prefer to think of us as falling into two mood groups: maximizers and satisficers. Maximizers are perfectionists. They want the best of everything, and they want to know they have the best of everything. Satisficers are realists. They want what's good enough, and they're happy to have it.

The trouble with perfectionists is that, by wanting the best, they aspire to be perfectly rational consumers in a world where we all agree that's impossible. It's a recipe for dissatisfaction, way too much work, and even depression.

In "Maximizing Versus Satisficing: Happiness Is a Matter of Choice," published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, researchers found that maximizers are more likely to be have regret and depression and less likely to report being happy, optimistic, or have high self-esteem.

To be a maximizer requires an "impossible" and "exhaustive search of the possibilities," that invariably ends with regret when the person realizes, after the purchase, that there might have been a better choice. This regret actually "[reduces] the satisfaction derived from one’s choice." The paradox of caring too much about having the perfect version of everything is that you wind up feel dissatisfied with all of it.

A new paper published in the Journal of Consumer Research further illuminates the onerous woe of perfectionism. Maximizers apply for more jobs, attend more job interviews, spend more time worrying about their social status, and wind up less happy, less optimistic, "and more depressed and regretful" than everybody else.

In a battery of tests designed to prime subjects to act like maximizers and satisficers, the researchers validated just about every stereotype about perfectionists: They work harder, search more deeply, and perform better in their jobs, but the emotional byproducts of their accomplishments are regret and dissatisfaction. (You might say that hard-earned success in life is wasted on the people least likely to appreciate it.)

Both papers concluded that the Internet is a briar patch of misery for maximizers. Not only does it allow them to more easily compare their lot to the sepia-toned success stories of their peers on Facebook and Instagram, but also it makes comparison shopping hell. From the first paper's discussion section:
The proliferation of options [online] raises people’s standards for determining what counts as a success, [from] breakfast cereals to automobiles to colleges to careers. Second, failure to meet those standards in a domain containing multiple options encourages one to treat failures as the result of personal shortcomings rather than situational limitations, thus encouraging a causal attribution for failure that we might call “depressogenic.” [ed: had to look that one up.]

In short: The Internet doesn't have to make you miserable. But if you insist on comparing your choices and your life to every available alternative accessible through a Google search, it will.

For consumers, this means embracing the limitations of classical economics. We don't know everything. We don't have everything. And that's okay. Pretending otherwise is, in fact, anything but rational."

[See also: http://www.swarthmore.edu/SocSci/bschwar1/maximizing.pdf ]
choice  choices  paradoxofchoice  perfectionists  satisficers  economics  rationality  reason  2014  unhappiness  happiness  depression  jobhunting  perfectionism  optimism  regret  worry  anxiety  possibilities  satisfaction  caring  self-esteem  realism  derekthompson  advertising  internet  infooverload  information  comparison 
march 2014 by robertogreco
If You're Always Stressed at Your Job, You're Probably Trying to Be Perfect
Some jobs just suck and cause enormous amounts of stress all on their own, but if you have a history of feeling stressed at work—regardless of the job—Dr. Fredric Neuman points out that it's probably because you're trying to be perfect and avoid critcism: More »
Psychology  Jobs  Work  Career  Brain  Job  perfectionism  Brain_hacks  Mind_Hacks  Stress  perfectionists  from google
october 2012 by aaronmfraser
If You're Always Stressed at Your Job, You're Probably Trying to Be Perfect
Some jobs just suck and cause enormous amounts of stress all on their own, but if you have a history of feeling stressed at work—regardless of the job—Dr. Fredric Neuman points out that it's probably because you're trying to be perfect and avoid critcism:

Very often, however, people know very well they are in no danger of being fired, yet feel stress on the job anyway, often on a daily basis. It turns out that for most of them there are two underlying fears not immediately apparent that make them susceptible to stress under ordinary circumstances and that would affect them no matter what kind of work they would do:

1. The fear of making a mistake.

2. The fear of being criticized, or yelled at.

They start off feeling some sense of inadequacy, usually for reasons having to do with the way they were treated growing up.

Whether you were subject to high expectations or anything else, you're never going to do anything that doesn't elicit criticism at least some of the time. And criticism is good, when it's constructive. Rather than put the world on your shoulders and expect yourself to be perfect, understand that the criticism often is an effort to make your work even better. You have to let go of those expectations if you want to let go of your stress.

For more on stress and what you can do about it, read our explainer.

Stress on the Job | Psychology Today

Photo by Patrick Breig (Shutterstock).
Stress  Brain  Brain_hacks  Career  Job  Jobs  Mind_Hacks  perfectionism  perfectionists  Psychology  Work  via:greader  *imported  from google
october 2012 by kuzzzma

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