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Kahneman & Tversky, (1982) Kahneman & Tversky, (1982) have shown that actions, or errors of commission, generate more regret in the short term. In a telephone survey, Gilovich and Medvec asked a random sample of adults in Syracuse, New York: When you look back on your experiences in life and think of those things that you regret, what would you say you regret more, those things that you did but wish you hadn‘t, or those things that you didn‘t do but wish you had? (What would be you answer?) Action, Inaction, and Regret Gilovich and Medvec (1994) Gilovich and Medvec (1994) conducted different studies to examine the time course of regret caused by action, or errors of commission, and inaction, or errors of omission.regret Contributor© POSbase 2004
In a second study, Gilovich and Medvec asked respondents: “When you look back on your life to this point, what are your biggest regrets?” Overall, the 77 respondents described 213 regrets. Two judged categorized the regrets and found that only 10 of the 213 regrets were beyond the control of the person. Of the 203 remaining regrets, 128 regrets were caused by inaction (e.g., missed romantic opportunity), whereas only 75 were caused by actions (e.g., unwise romantic adventure). Again, a majority of regret were over inactions, or errors of omission. Action, Inaction, and Regret Of the 60 respondents, 45, or 75%, indicated that they experienced more regret over those things they did but do not wish they had done it. This is a first study that demonstrated more regret for inaction, or errors of omission, in the long run. © POSbase 2004
Dave and Jim not know each other, but both are enrolled at the same elite East Coast university. Both are only moderately satisfied where they are, and both are considering transferring to another prestigious school. Each agozines over the decision, going back and forth between thinking he is going to stay and thinking he will leave. They ultimately make different decisions: Dave opts to stay where he is and Jim decides to transfer. Suppose their decisions turn out badly for both of them: Dave still doesn’t like it where he is and wishes he had transferred, and Jim doesn’t like his new environment and wishes he had stayed. Action, Inaction, and Regret In order to address the conflicting pattern of results by Kahneman and Tversky (1982) and by Gilovich and Medvec, they did another study, letting participants consider the following scenario:Kahneman and Tversky (1982) © POSbase 2004
(a)“Who do you think would regret his decision the most upon learning that it was a mistake; and / or (b)“Who do think would regret his decision the most in the long run? Action, Inaction, and Regret After reading this scenario, the students were then asked: © POSbase 2004 Independent of the design (between-subjects or within-subjects), a majority of participants (76%) thought that Jim, who did something, would feel more regret over his decision in the short term, but a majority (63%) thought that Dave, who did nothing, would feel more regret in the long run.
(a)In the short term, people feel more regret over actions, or errors of commission; (b)In the long run, people feel more regret over inactions, or errors of omission. Action, Inaction, and Regret In sum, these studies show a clear temporal pattern for the experience of regret:regret © POSbase 2004 Hattiangadi et al. (1995) found a similar pattern of regrets in Terman’s geniuses. Gilovich and Medvec (1995) Gilovich and Medvec (1995) reviewed the evidence gathered for the experience of regret and described different mechanisms that help explain the observed temporal pattern.
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