Rush of regret: a longitudinal analysis of naturalistic regrets
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The current research examines immediate regrets occurring at the time of a meaningful life outcome to better understand influences on real-life regrets. This research used a longitudinal approach to examine both initial severity and the rate of change in immediate regrets. Initial severity was associated with greater past control over the outcome and lower levels of future ability to attain goals relevant to the regret and correct the regretted situation. Regret decreased over time, but less so if it concerned attainable ongoing goals. These contrasting effects of future opportunity on initial severity and change over time support a Dynamic Opportunity Principle of regret. Furthermore, the effects of past opportunity and of actions versus inactions on immediate regrets diverged from past findings about retrospective regrets. Immediate regrets may fundamentally differ from retrospective regrets, and implications for our understanding of regret are discussed.