In two studies we challenged the well consolidated position in regret literature according to which the necessary condition for the emergence of regret is a bad outcome ensuing from free decisions. Without free choice, and, consequently, personal responsibility, other emotions, such as disappointment, but not regret,are supposed to be elicited. In our opinion, a main source of regret is being obliged by circumstance out of our control to chose an undesired option. We tested the hypothesis that regret resulting from a forced choice is more intense than regret derived from a free choice and that the outcome affects the latter, not the former. Besides, we investigated whether two other variables – the perception of the level of freedom of the choice and the choice justifiability – mediated the relationships between choice and regret, as well as the other four emotions we examined: satisfaction, anger toward oneself, disappointment, anger towards circumstances. The two studies were based on the scenario methodology and implied a 2 x 2 (choice x outcome) between design. In the first study the foreseen short-term effects of the choice were assessed; in the second study the experienced long-term effects of the choice were assessed. In each study 160 students of the Second University of Naples participated. Results largely corroborated our hypotheses. They were discussed in the light of the main theories on regret and decision making.
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