Individual differences in regret: the mediating role of counterfactual thinking

Open Access
Shih, Shin-I
Graduate Program:
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
Committee Members:
  • Susan Mohammed, Thesis Advisor
  • regret
  • counterfactual thinking
  • Individual differences
Despite the fact that certain personality types may be more or less prone to experience regret, individual differences have not received adequate attention in the regret literature. The present study provided a more comprehensive treatment of the relationship between individual differences and regret by addressing what characteristics are related to regret, why they are related (mediating mechanisms), and under what conditions (moderating relationships). Specifically, five personality variables (social comparison orientation, action-state orientation, maximization orientation, decision making self-efficacy, and locus of control) conceptually related to regret were empirically investigated. Furthermore, this study examined the mediating role counterfactual thinking played in the relationships between individual differences and intensity of regret. Finally, the impact of task importance on the strengths of the personality and counterfactual thinking relationships was investigated. The results of the present study showed that all of the individual differences were found to be associated with intensity of regret. However, the significance of the relationships was contingent upon situational factors, such as the tasks used to study the relationships (scenario or recall tasks) as well as the importance level of the decisions involved (high or low importance). These results suggested that individual differences, in addition to task characteristics and situational conditions, can have an impact on post-decision emotions, and should be considered in future decision-making and regret studies.