From Dan Ariely's blog, comes this interesting post on the theory of "medium maximization"Behavioral finance lesson – frequent flyer points?: "
In response to a reader's email on his clients tending to select a financial retail custodian on the basis of which offered more frequent flyer miles, which is an odd way to be sure of making such critical decisions, Dan Ariely offers this interesting concept to explain how people make decisions...
This phenomenon is what we call “medium maximization.”
The basic idea is that often people focus on near term concrete goals (such as frequent flyer miles), and while trying to maximize these immediate and clear goals they forget or discount the real reason for their actions — which in your case is maximizing their financial outcome. (For a great paper on medium maximization see this paper by Chris Hsee)
Why do people engage is such medium maximizations? Because it is easy. It gives people a clear direction for behavior — and just having something measurable within reach can redirect our motivation. Another reason for the efficacy of medium maximization is that such immediate and concrete goals by which to measure ourselves against give us a sense of progression ….
- Journal of Consumer Research: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly , 2003, vol. 30, issue 1, pages 1-14, Hsee, Christopher K, et al
When applying such a concept to the area of employment, do people sometimes decide to join a company based on the company providing free soft-drinks. Sure it is a perquisite, a convenience, but certainly not one on which an employment decision should be made.