On the Comparative Nature of the Emotion Regret



Regret is a negative, cognitively based emotion that we experience when realizing or imagining that our present situation would have been better, had we decided differently. Hence, a central element in regret is the comparability of a decision outcome with the outcomes forgone. Up to now, regret researchers have simply assumed that decision makers are able to compare outcomes, and often ignored the fact that in real life these counterfactual comparison processes might be difficult or impossible. The effects of comparability on experiences of regret and anticipations of future regret are the topic of this chapter.