Satisficing vs satisfying

Photo of author


Satisficing and satisfying are two words that are quite similar in pronunciation and spelling, but have very different meanings. We will examine the definitions of satisficing and satisfying, where these two words came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

Satisficing describes something that meets the minimum requirements of a goal, performing something at a satisfactory level rather than at the maximum level possible. It is a strategy for decision making that was introduced by Herbert A Simon in the mid-twentieth century, who also coined the word satisficing as a portmanteau of the words satisfying and sufficing. He developed this concept as an explanation of how decision makers come to a solution when an optimal solution can not be arrived at or when the execution of an optimal solution is impossible or filled with uncertainty. The person then examines alternatives until a solution is found that satisfies the minimum requirements and is usually easy, inexpensive and low-risk. This is often considered a rational choice. Another term for satisficing is heuristic technique. Simon won the 1978 Nobel Peace Prize in Economics for his ideas. The research psychologist Daniel Kahneman went on to study how managers make decisions culminating in his Prospect Theory for which he won the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize in Economics. The Prospect Theory builds on the concept of satisficing and behavioral economics, rather than the previous assumptions economic theory used to explain the process of making decisions, such as rationality, probability and maximizing of potential. Satisficing is used as an adjective, noun or a verb, related words are satisfice, satisfices, satisficed, satisficer.

Satisfying describes something that bestows fulfillment or fills someone with happiness. Satisfying may be used as an adjective or a verb, related words are satisfy, satisfies, satisfied, satisfier. The word is derived from the Latin word satisfacere, which means to do enough.


Research suggests that those who are focused on making the best possible choice (“maximizers”) can get stuck in a quagmire of dissatisfaction and self-doubt, while those who stop searching once they’ve found something good (“satisficers”) tend to fare better. (Psychology Today Magazine)

The “satisficing” solution has been to ensure that no one power is able to dominate the entire peninsula; that an equilibrium of great-power interests in the Korean peninsula, today between China and the US, be maintained. (The Straits Times)

As the series enters its second half and further explores Andrew’s sexual assault of Laura, Joanne has insisted there will be a “satisfying conclusion”. (The Huffington Post)