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Anticipated regret, expected feedback and behavioral decision making

by Marcel Zeelenberg
Journal of Behavioral Decision Making ()

Abstract

This paper addresses the effects of the anticipation of regret on decision making under uncertainty. Regret is a negative, cognitively based emotion that we experience when realizing or imagining that our present situation would have been better, had we decided didfferently. The experience of post-decisional regret is for a large part conditional on the knowledge of the outcomes of the rejected alternatives. A series of studies is reviewed in which it is shown that whether or not decision makers expect post-decisional feedback on rejected alternatives has a profound influence on the decisions they make. These studies, focusing on choice between gambles, consumer decision making and interpersonal decision making, also show that anticipated regret can promote risk-averse as well as risk-seeking choices. The review of empirical studies is followed by a discussion of the conditions under which we can expect the anticipation of regret to take place.

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