On the existential road from regret to heroism: Searching for meaning in life

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Abstract

We investigated whether regret predicted the motivation to act heroically. In a series of studies, we examined the relationship between regret, search for meaning in life, and heroism motivation. First, Study 1 (a and b) investigated the association between regret and search for meaning in life, considering regret as a whole, action regret, and inaction regret. As expected, regret correlated positively with search for meaning in life. In two additional studies (Study 2 and 3), we examined whether regret predicted heroism motivation and whether this effect was mediated through search for meaning in life. Study 2 confirmed this hypothesis for individual differences in regret, using a correlational design. Study 3 confirmed the hypothesis for temporary experiences of regret, using an experimental design. In addition, in Study 3 we found that heroism motivation was stronger for people with high self-enhancement needs than for those with lower self-enhancement needs. We discuss the relationship between regret and heroism in light of these results and explore their implications.

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Igou, E. R., van Tilburg, W. A. P., Kinsella, E. L., & Buckley, L. K. (2018). On the existential road from regret to heroism: Searching for meaning in life. Frontiers in Psychology, 9(DEC). https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02375

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