Functional Regret: the Positive Effects of Regret on Learning From Negative Experiences

Consumers often experience regret, mainly after making decisions. Existing research on regret mainly examined its dysfunctional negative consequences. We propose that regret can be functional and guide decision making in a predictable manner. Examining real-life data (Study 1) and manipulating only the emotional component of experienced regret (Studies 2-4), we find that regret leads to differential performance depending on the similarity of the domain. Unlike the previous literature, we find that in domains they have failed before, regret helps consumers make better decisions. We also show that (aside from cognitive feedback) higher emotional intensity of regret is important for learning.


Noelle Nelson, Selin Malkoc, and Baba Shiv (2010) ,"Functional Regret: the Positive Effects of Regret on Learning From Negative Experiences", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 37, eds. Margaret C. Campbell, Jeff Inman, and Rik Pieters, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 263-266 .


Noelle Nelson, University of Minnesota, USA
Selin Malkoc, Washington University in St. Louis, USA
Baba Shiv, Stanford University, USA


NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 37 | 2010

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