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Action orientation, consistency and feelings of regret

Author(s): Todd McElroy | Keith Dowd

Journal: Judgment and Decision Making
ISSN 1930-2975

Volume: 2;
Issue: NA;
Start page: 333;
Date: 2007;
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Keywords: action | inaction | regret | action-state orientation | individual differences.

Previous research has demonstrated that consistency between people's behavior and their dispositions has predictive validity for judgments of regret. Research has also shown that differences in the personality variable of action orientation can influence ability to regulate negative affect. The present set of studies was designed to investigate how both consistency factors and action-state personality orientation influence judgments of regret. In Study 1, we used a recalled life event to provide a situation in which the person had experienced either an action or inaction. Individuals with an action orientation experienced more regret for situations involving inaction (staying home) than situations involving action (going out). State-oriented individuals, however, maintained high levels of regret and did not differ in their regret ratings across either the action or inaction situations. In Study 2, participants made realistic choices involving either an action or inaction. Our findings revealed the same pattern of results: action-oriented individuals who chose an option that involved not acting (inaction) had more regret that individuals who chose an option that involved acting (action). State-oriented individuals experienced high levels of regret regardless of whether they chose to act or not to act.
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