The relativity of bad decisions: Social comparison as a means to alleviate regret

Frenk Van Harreveld*, Joop Van Der Pligt, Loran Nordgren

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)105-117
Number of pages13
JournalBritish Journal of Social Psychology
Volume47
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology

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