A Satisficer I am not: No pain, No Gain indeed


A Satisficer I am not: No pain, No Gain indeed


In graduate school, I did a series of research studies on surveys. More specifically, I studied how to improve the self-report methodology so that one can get more “accurate” data from questionnaires. Yes, I know. Ho hum. Considering, however, that Americans are the most surveyed group in the world and readily give opinions on everything and anything, I felt it important to better understand how to get at “truthiness” especially when it comes to getting sexual risk behaviors data.


At that time, I came across the term “satisficing” and it opened up my world to a better understanding of many people around me then and now.


When someone completes a survey but is not really invested in the process or the accuracy of the data and just want to complete it- they are a satisficer. When you do the bare minimum in order to get something done so that you can say you got something done, you are a satisficer. At times it appears that satisficing is intricately tied to a sense of maintaining work/life balance. I am not passing judgment necessarily on those that wholeheartedly maintain an all-consuming desire for work/life balance. I just attended the funeral of a colleague who did not maintain (anywhere) near such a balance and it drove home the point that work cannot be all-consuming. However, it cannot be that if someone comes to you at 3pm and says “hey we just got these edits in, can you help finish them up so that the person traveling tomorrow has the latest data for their presentation” that you do no not say ”well, I was planning on leaving at 5pm so that I can go home and watch tv.”.  I would say that is not a balance but a scale tipped in favor of watching television and doing the bare minimum at work.



There are people who will clock in and do enough to get a few things done and appear busy. Yet, they never push themselves nor their colleagues to do better or slightly more. You know the type. A new project gets announced in a team meeting and they immediately start calculating how to do it in the most minimal way. Not necessarily the most efficient way.



I have never satisficed. I don’t have it in my DNA. I don’t understand giving everything my all. I take great pride in what I do and feel this intrinsic push to try as hard as I can. Don’t get me wrong, however. If there is an easy way to do something that will get me the same results I need not suffer pain needlessly. I am not a masochist. I am just driven to the best I can that can be for the good the team, the project and the future.  I will add a caveat. There are times, when people push one so far in terms of demoralization, that you reach a point where perhaps you can no longer push to give it your all. That feeling of not pushing myself because I am tired of the behind-the scenes machinations is truly demoralizing and burdensome. I never want to be made to feel that I shouldn’t’ give something my all. A colleague once told me that he would do the last-minute project our boss gave us but that he would not put 100% into. He was afraid that if he did a good job then he would end up being the go-to person for this type of project thereafter and it wasn’t something that he likes or wanted to do forever more.  Now that type of balance (a need for intellectual curiosity and work completion) I get.



If I can make a request as a researcher, next time you get a survey to complete please don’t just check all the “completely agrees” all the way down.  First off, we often change up the direction of the scale or question just for that very “satisficing” reason. Second, we truly would like to know what you think, feel and do.


Anyway, it is labor day weekend. Go and treat yourself to some rest and relaxation. Here comes the fall and tons of new projects and adventures to take on.


Other word press thoughts






Categories: Uncategorized

Tagged as:

8 replies »

  1. Extremely interesting post! I was raised in a household of type A personalities, and for many years, I was convinced that I was a type A, too. It turns out that I’m somewhere in between, and I do everything to my best ability according to my priorities. As my daughters got older and had more needs (teenaged years–yikes!) I reduced my responsibilities at work, often by satisficing. In my earlier work years, I was that person who would sometimes get taken advantage of because I was such a hard worker.
    In terms of surveys–I actually like doing them, so not satisficing there!


  2. Interesting! I have been thinking on the same lines with workers at restaurants. I have noticed a trend of doing just to get by. One example was going to get a takeout meal a few days ago. I arrived at the place that is also in a gas/convenience store. Sounds strange maybe but they did make good chicken at one time. Anyway when I got there they had a truck blocking to close the drive thru. No problem I will just walk in with a two year old.
    I enter and find the sign not on with the menu. So I ask the person on the register if the chicken place was was still open.She said yes. Suddenly out of nowhere (sitting area in the back) came two workers. I ordered and then was told their is not coleslaw because someone did not order it. Okay sub time. Now you might say I would not say this if I never worked at this type of place. I did and although it was not the best pay I did more than the minimum. I would not have been somewhere else but would have been working (cleaning). I had at one time, according to the health inspector, the second cleanest place in the county. I only got low pay but I ordered the fresh vegetables and did more than what I got paid for because I was being paid to work there and not sit.
    I am one of those people who like to do surveys. Not use why.


  3. Gets me thinking, how much do I play the satisficer to avoid my caustic nature from getting me into trouble and how different life would be if I answered honestly all the time
    Though I get the idea that if I was honest I would be saying “I don’t give a friggin damn about your crap” a lot of the time, maybe I should play the satisficer!!


I welcome your thoughts

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s