27 research outputs found

    Rush of regret: a longitudinal analysis of naturalistic regrets

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    The current research examines immediate regrets occurring at the time of a meaningful life outcome to better understand influences on real-life regrets. This research used a longitudinal approach to examine both initial severity and the rate of change in immediate regrets. Initial severity was associated with greater past control over the outcome and lower levels of future ability to attain goals relevant to the regret and correct the regretted situation. Regret decreased over time, but less so if it concerned attainable ongoing goals. These contrasting effects of future opportunity on initial severity and change over time support a Dynamic Opportunity Principle of regret. Furthermore, the effects of past opportunity and of actions versus inactions on immediate regrets diverged from past findings about retrospective regrets. Immediate regrets may fundamentally differ from retrospective regrets, and implications for our understanding of regret are discussed

    Self-report measures of individual differences in regulatory focus: a cautionary note

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    Regulatory focus theory distinguishes between two independent structures of strategic inclination, promotion versus prevention. However, the theory implies two potentially independent definitions of these inclinations, the self-guide versus the reference-point definitions. Two scales (the Regulatory Focus Questionnaire [Higgins, E. T., Friedman, R. S., Harlow, R. E., Idson, L. C., Ayduk, O. N., & Taylor, A. (2001). Achievement orientations from subjective histories of success: Promotion pride versus prevention pride. European Journal of Social Psychology, 31, 3–23] and the General Regulatory Focus Measure [Lockwood, P., Jordan, C. H., & Kunda, Z. (2002). Motivation by positive and negative role models: Regulatory focus determines who will best inspire us. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 83, 854–864]) have been widely used to measure dispositional regulatory focus. We suggest that these two scales align respectively with the two definitions, and find that the two scales are largely uncorrelated. Both conceptual and methodological implications are discussed

    How far to the road not taken? The effect of psychological distance on counterfactual direction.

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    Upward and downward counterfactuals serve the distinct motivational functions of selfimprovement and self-enhancement, respectively. Drawing on construal level theory, which contends that increasing psychological distance from an event leads people to focus on highlevel, self-improvement versus low-level, self-enhancement goals, we propose that distance will alter counterfactual direction in a way that satisfies these distinct motives. We found that people generated more downward counterfactuals about recent versus distant past events, while they tended to generate more upward counterfactuals about distant versus recent past events (Experiment 1). Consistent results were obtained for social distance (Experiment 2). Experiment 3 demonstrated that distance affects the direction of open-ended counterfactual thoughts. Finally, Experiment 4 explored a potential mechanism, demonstrating that manipulating temporal distance produced changes in participants’ self-improvement versus self-enhancement motivations when responding to negative events. Future directions and broader implications for self-control, social support, empathy, and learning are discussed

    Dare to compare: fact-based versus simulation-based comparison in daily life

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    We examined the relative frequency of social, counter factual, past-temporal, and future-temporal comparison in daily life using an experience-sampling method, in which participants were randomly prompted to record thought samples using palmtop computers carried for two weeks. Comparative thought accounted for 12% of all thoughts, and all four comparison types occurred with equivalent frequency. Comparisons may be either fact-based (i.e., based on actuality, as in social and past-temporal comparison) or simulation-based (i.e., based on imagination, as in counterfactual and future-temporal comparison). Because the latter are more “unbounded,” and because greater perceived opportunity invites greater self-improvement, we predicted and found that counterfactual and future-temporal comparison were more likely to be upward (vs. downward) than social and past-temporal comparison. All comparison types focused on approach more than avoidance motives, except for counterfactuals, which showed equivalent focus on both. These findings reveal the prominence of comparative thought in daily life, and underscore the value an integrative theory that describes social, counter factual, or temporal comparison using a common theoretical platform

    The Regret Elements Scale: Distinguishing the affective and cognitive components of regret

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    Regret is one of the most common emotions, but researchers generally measure it in an ad-hoc, unvalidated fashion. Three studies outline the construction and validation of the Regret Elements Scale (RES), which distinguishes between an affective component of regret, associated with maladaptive affective outcomes, and a cognitive component of regret, associated with functional preparatory outcomes. The present research demonstrates the RES’s relationship with distress (Study 1), appraisals of emotions (Study 2), and existing measures of regret (Study 3). We further demonstrate the RES’s ability to differentiate regret from other negative emotions (Study 2) and related traits (Study 3). The scale provides both a new theoretical perspective on regret, and a tool for researchers interested in measuring post-decisional regret

    Repetitive regret, depression, and anxiety: findings from a nationally representative survey

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    Past research has established a connection between regret (negative emotions connected to cognitions about how past actions might have achieved better outcomes) and both depression and anxiety. in the present research, the relations between regret, repetitive thought, depression, and anxiety were examined in a nationally representative telephone survey. although both regret and repetitive thought were associated with general distress, only regret was associated with anhedonic depression and anxious arousal. Further, the interaction between regret and repetitive thought (i.e., repetitive regret) was highly predictive of general distress but not of anhedonic depression nor anxious arousal. these relations were strikingly consistent across demographic variables such as sex, race/ethnicity, age, education, and income
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