Choosing between options associated with past and future regret

People sometimes choose between options associated with already-missed and to-be-missed counterfactuals, or put differently, between past and future regret. We find that these objectively irrelevant associations systematically sway peoples’ choices.

Highlights

  • People prefer products associated with missed rather than to-be-missed promotions.
  • People experience stronger regret and responsibility for missing future promotions.
  • The effect is lessened when the product is utilized before the promotion.
  • The effect is lessened when people know they will not encounter the future miss.
  • The effect is lessened when another person is responsible for the future miss.

 

People sometimes choose between options associated with already-missed and to-be-missed counterfactuals, or put differently, between past and future regret. We find that these objectively irrelevant associations systematically sway peoples’ choices. Results show participants prefer options associated with past promotions (Studies 1–3), and they experience more regret and feel more responsible for missing a future promotion (Studies 1 and 2). Study 2 also shows that participants’ preference for products associated with a past miss decreases when they know they will not encounter the future miss (promotion). Study 3 shows this preference also decreases when the product is utilized before the future miss becomes available. Finally, in a non-promotion context, Study 4 demonstrates that people distance themselves from a future miss when they are responsible for the miss but not when another person is responsible for it. These findings are related to regret, inaction inertia and the psychology of discounts.

 

Full Article

Tel Aviv University, P.O. Box 39040, Tel Aviv 6997801, Israel
Developed by
UI/UX Basch_Interactive