When your heart isn't smart: How different types of regret change decisions and profits

Susan K. Crotty, Leigh Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore the decision-making implications of “regrets of the heart” versus “regrets of the head” in economic decision making. Design/methodology approach – The phenomenon in three empirical studies is examined. Study 1 is a protocol analysis of people's “regrets of the heart” and “regrets of the head”. Study 2 uses the same recall prompt and examined decision makers' choices in an ultimatum bargaining game. Study 3 tests regrets of heart versus the head in an interactive face to face negotiation setting. Findings – Overall, it is found that people who were prompted to recall a time in which they regretted “not following their heart” were more likely to recall situations in which they experienced a loss or lost opportunity compared to people who recalled a time when they regretted “not following their head”. Recalling a regret of the heart prompts decision makers and negotiators to put a greater value on maintaining relationships and avoid loss in an interpersonal exchange situation. Research limitations/implications – These findings contribute to the literature on how emotions affect economic decision making and provide a more nuanced examination of regret. Practical implications – Focusing on “regrets of the head” may lead to greater economic gains in economic decisions. Originality/value – This article examines a different type of regret and demonstrates how this type of regret impacts economic decision-making behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)315-339
Number of pages25
JournalInternational Journal of Conflict Management
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2 2009


  • Decision making
  • Individual psychology
  • Profit

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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