A Theory of Mindful Decision-Making: How Self-Compassion and Mindfulness May Counteract Negative Outcomes of Maximizing

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Thesis or dissertation

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The field of positive psychology aims to understand and enhance those aspects of life that contribute to human flourishing. One area of research within positive psychology focuses on people’s choices and how they impact well-being outcomes such as optimism, life satisfaction, happiness, and depression. Maximizing, an approach to making choices that involves seeking the best objective outcome, has been associated with a number of negative subjective outcomes in these areas. Meanwhile, satisficing, or seeking an option that is good enough to meet one’s needs, relates to more positive subjective outcomes but sometimes does not yield as objectively good results. This paper examines the current literature on maximizing and satisficing, including outcomes associated with the two decision-making styles and potential mechanisms underlying them. It then makes a theoretical argument that mindful decision-making, defined as approaching decisions with mindfulness and self-compassion, might enable individuals to overcome the negative subjective outcomes associated with maximizing. Empirical research to test this theory is recommended, and practical implications for enhancing individuals’ well-being through interventions that engender mindful decision-making are discussed.


self-compassion, decision-making, mindfulness, maximizing, satisficing, positive psychology



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Date Posted: 19 December 2014