Protecting the self from the negative consequences of risky decisions.
Three experiments tested the idea that a motive to protect self-esteem (SE) from the threat of regret can influence decision making. Threat to SE was manipulated by varying whether people expected to know the outcome of their decisions. Study 1 showed that when Ss expected feedback about their decisions, only Ss low in SE made regret-minimizing choices. Study 2 showed that when Ss did not expect to know the outcome of their decisions, SE differences in choice strategies disappeared. Study 3 manipulated expectations about feedback on chosen and unchosen alternatives and showed that the more feedback that was expected, the more likely low but not high SE Ss were to make regret-minimizing choices. These studies suggest that people base decisions not only on objective attributes of choice alternatives, but also on the damage to SE that is perceived to result from a poor-decision outcome.
Josephs, RA; Larrick, RP; Steele, CM; Nisbett, RE
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