See the answer to this question: Is there a term that describes the personality trait of always desiring more?

Schwartz and colleagues (2002) have proposed that people fall into two groups: those who seek to maximize their decision by finding the very best option out of choices presented (maximizers), and those who have an idea in mind of what would be an "acceptable" option and settle for the first choice that surpasses their expectations (satisficers). Maximizers are always on the look out for "the best," are less satisfied with their choices, more likely to "socially compare" their options to others, and more likely to experience regret (Ma & Roese, 2014). Another recent publication proposed that when individuals experience "choice closure," and stop re-evaluating the non-selected alternative options, satisfaction with choice can increase (Gu, Botti, & Farro, 2013).

Is it possible to state that looking for challenges and being a maximizer can be correlated to a low selfesteem?

  • $\begingroup$ Care to elaborate on why you formulate that hypothesis? $\endgroup$
    – Steven Jeuris
    Feb 29, 2016 at 14:53

1 Answer 1


There seems to be indeed some correlation between maximization and self-esteem (as can be seen even in the wikipedia page). However it doesn't necessarily predicts low self-esteem.

Quoted from wikipedia:

Initial research on maximizing showed uniformly negative outcomes associated with chronic maximizing tendencies. Such tendencies were associated with lower happiness, self-esteem, and life satisfaction;2 with greater depression and regret;2 with lower satisfaction with choices;[8][9] with greater perfectionism;3[10] and with greater decision-making confusion, commitment anxiety, and rumination ... However, as disagreement over the definition of maximizing grew, research began to show diverging effects: some negative, some neutral, and some positive

Interestingly, those results closely resembles studies regarding correlation between "perfectionism" and "self-esteem" (perfectionism being a similar concept to maximization which you described).

There have been many studies, but in general, perfectionism can be detrimental only when it's maladaptive/ neurotic. On the other hand, positive/adaptive perfectionism tend to correlate with positive emotions, which can factors in a more positive self-esteem.

Some studies further classified that perfectionism coming from one-self is associated with adaptive aspect of perfectionism, and thus more related to positive emotions. While perfectionism that comes form social environment (imposed/prescribed by others), is more associated to the maladaptive aspect. As discussed in this article.

It somewhat make senses considering the definition of "self-esteem". In general, self-esteem is defined as how we evaluate our own worth, which starts early in infancy. It affected by many factors which may changes across lifetime (for example in childhood and teens), but in general it's largely affected by social factors.

So in summary, it's possible that being a maximizer (or being perfectionist in general) correlated to low-self esteem. But it depends on how exactly the maximizing is.


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