- The relativity of bad decisions: Social comparison as a means to alleviate regret
- British Journal of Social Psychology
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- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Psychology Research Institute (PsyRes)
In two studies, we examined the role of social comparisons in regret management. In the first study, participants received a (relatively) negative outcome after which they were presented with base-rate information about the performance of other participants in the experiment. Results showed that experienced regret decreased as a result of base-rate information showing that most others made even worse decisions than oneself. In the second study, we investigated whether people actively seek this kind of consensual information to validate their decision. After inducing regret by means of a manipulated outcome in a trivia quiz, participants could obtain information about the outcomes of previous participants or about the type of items used in the quiz.
Participants’ preference was determined by whether or not they believed that they would be given a second chance. In case of a negative and final outcome, participants preferred information about the prevalence of others who had an even worse outcome.
When the outcome was non-final, participants preferred information about the type of items used in the test. Both strategies were accompanied with a decrease in regret. Implications for research on regret and decision making are discussed.
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