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Anticipated regret, expected feedback and behavioral decision making

by Marcel Zeelenberg
Journal of Behavioral Decision Making ()
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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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