The development of regret

Eimear O'Connor, Teresa McCormack, Aidan Feeney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

34 Citations (Scopus)
40 Downloads (Pure)


In two experiments, 4- to 9-year-olds played a game in which they
selected one of two boxes to win a prize. On regret trials the unchosen
box contained a better prize than the prize children actually
won, and on baseline trials the other box contained a prize of the
same value. Children rated their feelings about their prize before
and after seeing what they could have won if they had chosen
the other box and were asked to provide an explanation if their
feelings had changed. Patterns of responding suggested that regret
was experienced by 6 or 7 years of age; children of this age could
also explain why they felt worse in regret trials by referring to
the counterfactual situation in which the prize was better. No evidence
of regret was found in 4- and 5-year-olds. Additional findings
suggested that by 6 or 7 years, children’s emotions were
determined by a consideration of two different counterfactual
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)120-127
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology

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