Cold Anticipated Regret versus Hot Experienced Regret : Why Consumers Fail to Regret Unhealthy Consumption

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-135
Journal / PublicationJournal of the Association for Consumer Research
Issue number2
Online published26 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019


The goal of this research is to study why consumers might fail to experience regret after unhealthy consumption. Specifically, we examine how anticipated regret before the unhealthy consumption and experienced regret after the consumption differ. We find that immediate post-consumption regret tends to be less intense than anticipated regret. We additionally find that immediate post-consumption regret tends to be less intense than delayed post-consumption regret. These effects are stronger for people with stronger self-control goals. The results suggest that anticipated and delayed post-consumption regret are “cold” assessments based on the discrepancy between goals and behaviors, whereas immediate post-consumption regret is a “hot” emotional experience. Negative arousal activated by hot regret triggers a defensive response that reduces the intensity of immediate post-consumption regret. Somewhat paradoxically, the results suggest that consumers are likely to be least remorseful immediately after their unhealthy consumption, compared to prior to or long after the consumption.

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