Choices and Happiness



You should spend about 20 minutes on Question 1 – 13,which are based on Reading

Passage 1 on the following pages.


Choices and Happiness



Americans today choose among more options in more parts of life than has ever been possible before. To an extent, the opportunity to choose enhances our lives. It is only logical to think that if some choice is good, more is better; people who care about having infinite options will benefit from them, and those who do not can always just ignore the 273 versions of cereal they have never tried Yet recent research strongly suggests that, psychologically, this assumption is wrong. Although some choice is undoubtedly better than none, more is not always better than less.



Recent research offers insight into why many people end up unhappy rather than pleased when their options expand. We began by making a distinction between “maximizers” and “satisficers” .



In particular, we composed a set of statements—the Maximization Scale—to diagnose people’ s propensity to maximize. Then we had several thousand people rate themselves from 1 to 7 on such statements as “I never settle for second best.” We also evaluated their sense of satisfaction with their decisions.We did not define a sharp cutoff to separate maximizers from satisficers,but in general,we think of individuals whose average scores are higher than 4 as maximizers and those whose scores are lower than the midpoint as satisficers. People who score highest on the test—the greatest maximizers—engage in more product comparisons than the lowest scorers, both before and after they make purchasing decisions, and they take longer to decide what to buy. When satisficers find an item that meets their standards, they stop looking. But maximizers exert enormous effort reading labels, checking out consumer magazines and trying new products. They also spend more time comparing their purchasing decisions with those of others.



We found that the greatest maximizers are the least happy with the fruits of their efforts. When they compare themselves with others, they get little pleasure from finding out that they did better and substantial dissatisfaction from finding out that they did worse. They are more prone to experiencing regret after a purchase, and if their acquisition disappoints them, their sense of well-being takes longer to recover. They also tend to brood or ruminate more than satisficers do.



Does it follow that maximizers are less happy in general than satisficers? We tested this by having people fill out a variety of questionnaires known to be reliable indicators of well-being. As might be expected, individuals with high maximization scores experienced less satisfaction with life and were less happy, less optimistic and more depressed than people with low maximization scores. Indeed, those with extreme maximization ratings had depression scores that placed them in the borderline clinical range.



Several factors explain why more choice is not always better than less, especially for maximizers. High among these are “opportunity costs.” The quality of any given option cannot be assessed in isolation from its alternatives. One of the “costs” of making a selection is losing the opportunities that a different option would have afforded. Thus, an opportunity cost of vacationing on the beach in Cape Cod might be missing the fabulous restaurants in the Napa Valley. EARLY DECISION-MAKING RESEARCH by Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky showed that people respond much more strongly to losses than gains. If we assume that oppoyunity costs reduce the overall desirability of the most preferred choice, then the more alternatives there are, the deeper our sense of loss will be and the less satisfaction we will derive from our ultimate decision.



The problem of opportunity costs will be worse for a maximizer than for a satisficer. The latter’ s “good enough” philosophy can survive thoughts about opportunity costs. In addition, the “good enough” standard leads to much less searching and inspection of alternatives than the maximizer’ s “best” standard. With fewer choices under consideration, a person will have fewer opportunity costs to subtract.



Just as people feel sorrow about the opportunities they have forgone, they may also suffer regret about the option they settle on. My colleagues and I devised a scale to measure proneness to feeling regret, and we found that people with high sensitivity to regret are less happy, less satisfied with life, less optimistic and more depressed than those with low sensitivity. Not surprisingly, we also found that people with high regret sensitivity tend to be maximizers. Indeed, we think that worry over future regret is a major reason that individuals become maximizers. The only way to be sure you will not regret a decision is by making the best possible one. Unfortunately, the more options you have and the more opportunity costs you incur, the more likely you are to experience regret.Regret.



In a classic demonstration of the power of sunk costs, people were offered season subscriptions to a local theater company. Some were offered the tickets at full price and others at a discount. Then the researchers simply kept track of how often the ticket purchasers actually attended the plays over the course of the season. Full-price payers were more likely to show up at performances than discount payers. The reason for this, the investigators argued, was that the full-price payers would experience more regret if they did not use the tickets because not using the more costly tickets would constitute a bigger loss. To increase sense of happiness, we can decide to restrict our options when the decision is not crucial. For example, make a rule to visit no more than two stores when shopping for clothing.



Question 1-4

Look at the following statements(Question 1-4)and the list of people below.Match each statement with the correct

person,A-D.Write the correct letter,A-D,in boxes 1-4 on your answer sheet.

NB You may use any letter more than once.

A Maximizers

B Satisficers

C Both

D Neither of them


1 finish transaction when the items match their expectation

2 buy the most expensive things when shopping

3 consider repeatedly until they make final decision

4 particular in the questionnaire of the author


Questions 5-9

Do the following statements agree with the information given in Reading Passage 1? In boxes 5-9 on your answer sheet, write

TRUE if the statement agrees with the information

FALSE if the statement contradicts the information

NOT GIVEN if there is no information on this


5 With the society’s advancement, more chances make our lives better and happier.

6 There is difference of finding by different gender classification.

7 The feeling of loss is greater than that of acquisition.

8 “good enough ” standard brings about more effort on searching than “best” standard.

9 There are certain correlations between the ‘regret’ people and the maximizers.


Questions 10-13

Choose the correct letter, A, B, C or D. Write the correct letter in boxes 10-13 on your answer sheet.


10 What is the subject of this passage?

A regret makes people less happy

B choices and well-being

C an interesting phenomenon

D advices on shopping


11 According to conclusion of questionnaires, which of the following statement is correct?

A maximizers are less happy

B state of being optimistic is important

C uncertain results are found

D maximizers tend to cross bottom line


12 The experimental on theater tickets suggested:

A sales are different according to each season

B people like to spend on the most expensive items

C people feel depressed if they spend their vouchers

D people would regret if they failed to attend the plays.


13 What is author’ s suggestion on how to increase happiness:

A focus the final decision

B be sensitive and smart

C reduce the choice or option

D read label carefully


Choices and Happiness




3 A

4 C






10 B

11 A

12 D

13 C


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