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In three studies we examined the effects of action/inaction, social normality (i.e., how typical the decision is in one’s social environment) and decision process carefulness on anticipated regret. Whereas past research has drawn on norm theory (Kahneman & Miller, 1986) to emphasize the role of mutability in (anticipated) regret, the present studies highlight the important role of perceptions of decision justifiability (Connolly & Zeelenberg, 2002). Study 1 replicated earlier findings showing greater anticipated regret when behavior was abnormal, but perceived justifiability mediated the effect. Study 2 showed that anticipated regret was higher for careless than for careful decisions; perceived decision justifiability again mediated the effect. Study 3 found that, when both carefulness and normality information was provided, only the former affected anticipated regret, again mediated by perceived justifiability. Decision justification theory thus appears to provide a better account of anticipated regret intensity in this context than does norm theory.


Anticipated Regret, Decision Making, Decision Process Carefulness, Justifiability, Normality, Regret Aversion


Business | Organizational Behavior and Theory

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Organisational Behaviour and Human Resources

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.


Published in Cognition and Emotion, 2010, 24 (8), pp. 1405-1420