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Avoiding Future Regret in Purchase-Timing Decisions


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  • Cooke, Alan D J
  • Meyvis, Tom
  • Schwartz, Alan


When deciding when to make a purchase, people often compare their outcomes to those that would have occurred had they purchased earlier or later. In this article, we examine how pre- and postpurchase comparisons affect regret and satisfaction, and whether consumers learn to avoid decisions that result in regret. In the first two experiments, we show that information learned after the purchase has a greater impact on satisfaction than information learned before the purchase. In addition, negative price comparisons have a greater impact on satisfaction than positive comparisons. These results imply that if consumers who receive postpurchase information wish to avoid future feelings of regret, they should defer their purchases longer. Our second two experiments demonstrate this phenomenon: Subjects who were exposed to postchoice information set higher decision thresholds, consistent with the minimization of future regret. Paradoxically, providing subjects with additional postchoice information resulted in decreased average earnings, suggesting that consumers may try to avoid future regret even when doing so conflicts with expected value maximization. Copyright 2001 by the University of Chicago.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Consumer Research.

Volume (Year): 27 (2001)
Issue (Month): 4 (March)
Pages: 447-59

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jconrs:v:27:y:2001:i:4:p:447-59

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Cited by:
  1. Vincze, János & Koltay, Gábor, 2009. "Fogyasztói döntések a viselkedési közgazdaságtan szemszögéből
    [Consumer decisions from the angle of behavioural economics]
    ," Közgazdasági Szemle (Economic Review - monthly of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences), Közgazdasági Szemle Alapítvány (Economic Review Foundation), vol. 0(6), pages 495-525.
  2. Julio J. Rotemberg, 2004. "Fair Pricing," NBER Working Papers 10915, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Roman Kraussl & Carmen Lee & Leo Paas, 2013. "The Effect of Anticipated and Experienced Regret and Pride on Investors Future Selling Decisions," LSF Research Working Paper Series 13-5, Luxembourg School of Finance, University of Luxembourg.
  4. Julio J. Rotemberg, 2008. "Behavioral Aspects of Price Setting, and Their Policy Implications," NBER Working Papers 13754, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Roman Kraussl & Carmen Lee & Leo Paas, 2013. "The Effect of Anticipated and Experienced Regret and Pride on Investors Future Selling Decisions," CREA Discussion Paper Series 13-5, Center for Research in Economic Analysis, University of Luxembourg.
  6. Keaveney, Susan M. & Huber, Frank & Herrmann, Andreas, 2007. "A model of buyer regret: Selected prepurchase and postpurchase antecedents with consequences for the brand and the channel," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 60(12), pages 1207-1215, December.
  7. Zeelenberg, Marcel & Pieters, Rik, 2004. "Beyond valence in customer dissatisfaction: A review and new findings on behavioral responses to regret and disappointment in failed services," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 57(4), pages 445-455, April.
  8. DeTienne, Dawn R. & Shepherd, Dean A. & De Castro, Julio O., 2008. "The fallacy of "only the strong survive": The effects of extrinsic motivation on the persistence decisions for under-performing firms," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 23(5), pages 528-546, September.
  9. Michenaud, Sébastien & Solnik, Bruno, 2008. "Applying regret theory to investment choices: Currency hedging decisions," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 27(5), pages 677-694, September.
  10. Rong Chen & Jianmin Jia, 2012. "Regret and performance uncertainty in consumer repeat choice," Marketing Letters, Springer, vol. 23(1), pages 353-365, March.
  11. Daniela Raeva & Eric van Dijk & Marcel Zeelenberg, 2011. "How comparing decision outcomes affects subsequent decisions: The carry-over of a comparative mind-set," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 6(4), pages 343-350, June.
  12. Zeelenberg, M. & Pieters, R., 2004. "Beyond valence in customer dissatisfaction: A review and new findings on behavioral responses to regret and disappointment in failed services," Open Access publications from Tilburg University urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-304446, Tilburg University.


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