Just read this blog post over at Mindhacks and found myself both laughing and crying at the same time. And that’s because it’s a study all about Regrets, specifically a study titled, “Regrets of a Typical American”.
I’m laughing because my husband is often pointing out how much I dwell too long over actions that I’ve already committed. At the same time all this dwelling makes me sad cos, that’s right….it’s depressing.
And although I can’t access the full study from the Journal of Social Psychological and Personality Science, the review remains intriguing, so I’ll just have to see if I can get access from my office.
Not surprisingly, like the author points, Love tops the charts with Family and Education right after.
Specifically of interest is how they assessed how regret could be framed in a way that was both an inaction and action.
The study also found that regrets about things you haven’t done were equally as common as regrets about things you have, no matter how old the person.
The difference between the two is often a psychological one, because we can frame the same regret either way – as regret about an action: ‘If only I had not dropped out of school’; or as a regret about an inaction: ‘If only I had stayed in school’.
Despite the fact that they are practically equivalent, regrets framed as laments about actions were more common and more intense than regrets about inactions, although inaction regrets tended to be longer lasting.
So although it’s nice to know that there are studies looking at emotion, specifically regret, the next step would to be figure out what to do with it. Would re-wiring the way we regret be any help?
For the Mindhack post, click here.