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Consequences of Regret Aversion: Effects of Expected Feedback on Risky Decision Making

by Marcel Zeelenberg, Jane Beattie, Joop Van Der Pligt, Nanne K De Vries
Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes ()

Abstract

Previous research has considered the question of how anticipated regret affects risky decision making. Several studies have shown that anticipated regret forces participants towards the safe option, showing risk-aversion. We argue that these results are due to the previous confounding of the riskiness of the options with the feedback received. Our design unconfounds these factors, and we predict that participants will always tend to make regret-minimizing choices (rather than risk-minimizing choices). We present three experiments using a choices between equally valued alternatives paradigm. In these experiments we manipulate whether the risky or safe gamble is the regret-minimizing choice by manipulating which gamble(s) will be resolved. As predicted, participants tend to choose the regret-minimizing gamble in both gains and losses and in both relatively high risk and relatively low risk pairs of gambles. We consider the implications of these results for the role of regret in choice behavior.

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