The experience of regret: what, when, and why.

@article{Gilovich1995TheEO,
  title={The experience of regret: what, when, and why.},
  author={Thomas Gilovich and Victoria Husted Medvec},
  journal={Psychological review},
  year={1995},
  volume={102 2},
  pages={
          379-95
        }
}
This article reviews evidence indicating that there is a temporal pattern to the experience of regret. Actions, or errors of commission, generate more regret in the short term; but inactions, or errors of omission, produce more regret in the long run. The authors contend that this temporal pattern is multiply determined, and present a framework to organize the divergent causal mechanisms that are responsible for it. In particular, this article documents the importance of psychological processes… 

Figures and Tables from this paper

The temporal pattern to the experience of regret.

TLDR
It was found that people's biggest regrets tend to involve things they have failed to do in their lives, which conflicts with research on counterfactual thinking that indicates that people regret unfortunate outcomes that stem from actions taken more than identical outcomes that result from actions foregone.

The Experience and Regulation of Regret Across the Adult Life Span

How do the experience, anticipation, and regulation of emotion influence decision making and how does it change with age? Regret is a decision-related emotion that arises when a chosen outcome is, or

Remembering and Regretting: The Zeigarnik Effect and the Cognitive Availability of Regrettable Actions and Inactions

Regrets appear to follow a systematic temporal pattern: Regrettable commissions loom larger in the short term, whereas regrettable omissions are more prominent in the long run. This research examines

Are Actions Regretted More Than Inactions?

TLDR
This claim that negative outcomes produce greater regret when they result from actions rather than from failures to act is investigated, and it is plausible that people control their actions to avoid potential regrets, leaving themselves vulnerable to regrets from inactions.

Regret in Decision Making

Decision research has only recently started to take seriously the role of emotions in choices and decisions. Regret is the emotion that has received the most attention. In this article, we sample a

The inaction effect in the psychology of regret.

TLDR
The authors show in 4 experiments that prior outcomes may promote action and hence make inaction more abnormal, and that following negative prior outcomes, more regret was attributed to inaction, a finding that the authors label the inaction effect.

Predictably regretful: A comparison of the effects of time, domain, justification, and life rule contradiction on the intensity of regrets.

1. Since we analyse participants’ greatest life-time regrets, the temporal theory implies that inactions should be more intensely regretted than actions 2. The temporal theory also implies that the

What We Regret Most... and Why

TLDR
The findings show that people’s biggest regrets are a reflection of where in life they see their largest opportunities; that is, where they see tangible prospects for change, growth, and renewal.

Regret triggers inaction inertia--but which regret and how?

TLDR
In two studies, experienced regret, anticipated regret, subjective valuation (SV) of the bargain and likelihood of purchase are assessed and suggest that previous accounts of inaction inertia are incomplete.

The role of regret and responsibility in decision-making

TLDR
Evidence that experienced regret encourages decision inertia, a bias to repeat, rather than avoid, a previous choice is provided, indicating that conventional models of the experiential content of regret, and its motivational effect, traditionally employed by economists and cognitive neuroscientists alike, do not provide a full description of behavioural responses to regret.
...

References

SHOWING 1-10 OF 85 REFERENCES

The temporal pattern to the experience of regret.

TLDR
It was found that people's biggest regrets tend to involve things they have failed to do in their lives, which conflicts with research on counterfactual thinking that indicates that people regret unfortunate outcomes that stem from actions taken more than identical outcomes that result from actions foregone.

The Psychology of Preferences

Presents examples in which a decision, preference, or emotional reaction is controlled by factors that may appear irrelevant to the choice made. The difficulty people have in maintaining a

Regret and Elation Following Action and Inaction

In their research on decision under uncertainty, Kahneman and Tversky (1982a) examined whether, given the same negative outcome, there is any difference in the experience of regret, depending on

The Role of Counterfactual Thinking in Judgments of Affect

The role of counterfactuals in judgments of affective reactions to outcomes was examined. Subjects read about individuals who experienced gains or losses as a result of either deciding to take action

Effect of Temporal Perspective on Subjective Confidence

Four studies examined whether people tend to lose confidence in their prospects for success the closer they are to the "moment of truth." Study 1 found that students think they will do better on

Reply—Putting a Premium on Regret

Anand (Anand, P. 1985. Testing regret. Management Sci. 31 114--116.) has suggested that measuring the sacrifice a person is prepared to make to avoid regret may be more difficult than I suggest in

Commission, Omission, and Dissonance Reduction: Coping with Regret in the "Monty Hall" Problem

Do people reduce dissonance more for their errors of commission than their errors of omission? More specifically, do people come to value a disappointing outcome obtained through a direct action more

The framing of decisions and the psychology of choice.

The psychological principles that govern the perception of decision problems and the evaluation of probabilities and outcomes produce predictable shifts of preference when the same problem is framed

Further Evidence of the Impact of Regret and Disappointment in Choice under Uncertainty

A preliminary experimental study of the relative impact of regret and disappointment on individual choice under uncert ainty is followed up and extended in various ways. Taken in conjuncti on with

Regret and disappointment in taxpayer reporting decisions: An experimental study

This paper reports on experiments which test whether factors such as regret or disappointment influence taxpayer compliance decisions. Previous tests of regret and disappointment theory have been
...