Choosing to Be Happy?

Age Differences in "Maximizing" Decision Strategies and Experienced Emotional Well-Being

Published in: Psychology and Aging, v. 31, no. 3, May 2016, p. 295-300

Posted on RAND.org on May 09, 2016

by Wandi Bruine de Bruin, Andrew M. Parker, JoNell Strough

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Maximizing is a decision strategy that seeks the very best option, which is more elaborate and potentially more regret inducing than choosing an option that is "good enough." In surveys with a large national sample, we find that older adults are less likely than younger adults to self-report maximizing, which is associated with their better experienced well-being reported 2 years later. This pattern holds after controlling for demographic characteristics and negative life events. Our findings suggest that older adults could possibly be opting for decision strategies that make them happier. We discuss implications for interventions that aim to improve decision making.

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