Abstract

Prior research has demonstrated that actions are regretted more than inactions in the short term. We show that, in limited purchase opportunities—situations where the purchase decision cannot be reversed—not purchasing (inaction) is seen as a loss and is associated with greater short-term regret than purchasing, reversing the omission bias. With respect to long-term regret, we use coping and availability mechanisms to suggest that, contrary to prior findings, inaction (nonpurchase) regrets decrease over time. We also argue that action (purchase) regrets should increase over time, but only when long-term utility is low. We support our predictions with a field study and two laboratory experiments.

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