Regret

. It is an emotion and a form of punishment administered to us. The fear of regret is a factor in our decision-making and a familiar experience, ie "don't do this, you will regret it"is a common feeling. It is a counterfactual emotion that is triggered by the availability of an alternative to reality.

. Unusual events are easier than normal events to undo in the imagination; associated memory contains a representation of the normal world and its rules. An abnormal event attracts attention and activates the idea of the events that would be normal under the same circumstances.

. Decision-makers know that they are prone to regret, and anticipation of such a powerful emotion plays a part in many decisions. Intuitions about regret are remarkably uniform and compelling

"...People expect to have stronger emotional reactions (including regret) to an outcome that is produced by action and the same outcome when it is produced by inaction..."

Daniel Kahneman 2012

. Some examples

. gamblers are happier if they gamble and win than if they don't gamble but get the same amount of money

. saying yes is associated with much more regret than saying no if the outcome was bad.

It is a distinction between full options and actions that deviate from the default. If further fall is associated with bad consequences, the discrepancy can be painful.

. Asymmetry in the risk of regret favours conventional and risk-averse choices; and increasing preference conventional options. For example,

. favouring brand names over generics

. end of financial year clean-up of portfolios of unconventional and questionable stocks

 

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