Do Children Who Experience Regret Make Better Decisions? A Developmental Study of the Behavioral Consequences of Regret

Eimear O'Connor, Teresa McCormack, Aidan Feeney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)
215 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Although regret is assumed to facilitate good decision making, there is little research directly addressing this assumption. Four experiments (N = 326) examined the relation between children's ability to experience regret and the quality of their subsequent decision making. In Experiment 1 regret and adaptive decision making showed the same developmental profile, with both first appearing at about 7 years. In Experiments 2a and 2b, children aged 6–7 who experienced regret decided adaptively more often than children who did not experience regret, and this held even when controlling for age and verbal ability. Experiment 3 ruled out a memory-based interpretation of these findings. These findings suggest that the experience of regret facilitates children's ability to learn rapidly from bad outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1995-2010
Number of pages16
JournalChild Development
Volume85
Issue number5
Early online date29 Apr 2014
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2014

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