October 16th, 2005


Here's something to chew on...

So let's hear it.

What sort of choice would you prefer be more difficult for you to make - the choice between two good things, or between two bad things?

For a silly example, let's say you like pie and cake equally, and you hate liver and sweetbreads equally. Would you rather have the choice between cake and pie, or liver and sweetbreads? Which would cause more soul-searching and stress? Which would make you stop and think more? Which would make you wonder, afterwards, if you had made the right choice?

Of course, those are just silly examples. But I'm curious to hear what people think. What's harder? Having to choose between two things you really, really want? Or having to choose between two things you really, really don't want?

Update: Ok, I wrote that at 3 am and apparently it wasn't clear the way I stated it. So I've edited it, and hopefully, now my intent is more clear. (Of course, I just woke up, so it's very possible that it's still confusing.) Also, if it helps, assume both will be choices you'll have to make, anyways. The point is not that you can choose to win or lose, but if you have to go through each, which is the more difficult choice to make.

Here's an example:

Good vs. Good: you win a contest, and you get to choose between two different all-expenses-paid vacations. Both have the same $$$ value, and you've been to neither place (nor have any ties to either). Each of them appeals to you, but in different ways. Also, you get to bring two people with you on the trip - and have to bring both, or you don't get the prize. (i.e. "Just my significant other" won't work.) Let's also assume you've got, say, 3 people you want to bring (but can't afford to pay for the 3rd out of pocket or any other "cheats" like that). You've got to leave someone behind - but you also get to give 2 people a free vacation with you. (And if it makes it easier, you can assume that everyone is grown up enough that they won't take it too personally; the only one who has any stress over this decision is you.)

Bad vs Bad: you go on your vacation, and at some point, you're in a position where both of those people you brought with you need help. You can only help one. It's not life-or-death (unless you really want it to be, to make the question more black and white), but let's say... each one will suffer some non-permanent damage, like a broken leg or something. Maybe you're going rock climbing and both are falling from a non-fatal height and you can only catch one. Or there's a car coming and you can only push one out of the way. Or something. You get the idea, hopefully.

So assume both of those have happened in the past; you've made your decision in both cases, it's done. No one's permanently helped or hurt by either, and there's no clear-cut choice either way, let's say. Which decision was harder for you to make? Which one had you doubting your choice more, later? Which one do you spend the most time up at night about, wondering if you made the right choice?
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