Choosing to Be Happy? Age Differences in ‘Maximizing’ Decision Strategies and Experienced Emotional Well-Being

22 Pages Posted: 8 Mar 2016

See all articles by Wändi Bruine de Bruin

Wändi Bruine de Bruin

Carnegie Mellon University

Andrew M. Parker

RAND Corporation

JoNell Strough

West Virginia University

Date Written: November 2, 2015

Abstract

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 two 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.

Keywords: aging, decision making, maximizing, emotional well-being

Suggested Citation

Bruine de Bruin, Wändi and Parker, Andrew M. and Strough, JoNell, Choosing to Be Happy? Age Differences in ‘Maximizing’ Decision Strategies and Experienced Emotional Well-Being (November 2, 2015). Netspar Discussion Paper No. 11/2015-080, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2744764 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2744764

Wändi Bruine de Bruin (Contact Author)

Carnegie Mellon University ( email )

Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States

Andrew M. Parker

RAND Corporation ( email )

1776 Main Street
P.O. Box 2138
Santa Monica, CA 90407-2138
United States

JoNell Strough

West Virginia University ( email )

PO Box 6025
Morgantown, WV 26506
United States

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