Avoiding Future Regret in Purchase-Timing Decisions

13 Pages Posted: 22 Jan 2013

See all articles by Alan D.J. Cooke

Alan D.J. Cooke

University of Florida - Warrington College of Business Administration

Tom Meyvis

New York University (NYU) - Department of Marketing

Alan Schwartz

University of Illinois, Chicago, College of Medicine

Date Written: 2001

Abstract

When deciding when to make a purchase, people often compare their outcomes to those that would have occurred had they purchased earlier or later. In this article, we examine how pre- and postpurchase comparisons affect regret and satisfaction, and whether consumers learn to avoid decisions that result in regret. In the first two experiments, we show that information learned after the purchase has a greater impact on satisfaction than information learned before the purchase. In addition, negative price comparisons have a greater impact on satisfaction than positive comparisons. These results imply that if consumers who receive postpurchase information wish to avoid future feelings of regret, they should defer their purchases longer. Our second two experiments demonstrate this phenomenon: Subjects who were exposed to postchoice information set higher decision thresholds, consistent with the minimization of future regret. Paradoxically, providing subjects with additional postchoice information resulted in decreased average earnings, suggesting that consumers may try to avoid future regret even when doing so conflicts with expected value maximization.

Keywords: Regret, Satisfaction, Risk, Decision Making

JEL Classification: D81, M31

Suggested Citation

Cooke, Alan D.J. and Meyvis, Tom and Schwartz, Alan, Avoiding Future Regret in Purchase-Timing Decisions (2001). Journal of Consumer Research, Vol. 27, No. 4, 2001, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2204712

Alan D.J. Cooke (Contact Author)

University of Florida - Warrington College of Business Administration ( email )

Gainesville, FL 32611
United States

Tom Meyvis

New York University (NYU) - Department of Marketing ( email )

Henry Kaufman Ctr
44 W 4 St.
New York, NY
United States

Alan Schwartz

University of Illinois, Chicago, College of Medicine ( email )

808 South Wood Street (MC-783) Room 165 CME
Chicago, IL 60612-7302
United States

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