Regrets of the typical american: Findings from a nationally representative sample

Mike Morrison*, Neal J. Roese

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


In this study of regret among a representative sample of Americans, the authors examined hypotheses derived from regret regulation theory, which asserts that regrets motivate a range of ameliorative cognitive consequences. Using a random-digit telephone survey, respondents reported a salient regret, then answered questions about that regret. Results showed inaction regrets lasted longer than action regrets, and that greater loss severity corresponded to more inaction regrets. Regrets more often focused on nonfixable than fixable situations. Women more than men reported love rather than work regrets and, overall, regrets more often focused on romance than on other life domains. Objective life circumstances (referenced by demographic variables) predicted regret in patterns consistent with regret regulation theory. These results complement laboratory findings while suggesting new refinements to existing theory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)576-583
Number of pages8
JournalSocial Psychological and Personality Science
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2011


  • affect
  • inaction
  • judgment
  • opportunity
  • regret
  • regulation
  • representative sample

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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