How Do I Regret Thee? Let Me Count My Alternatives: Regret and Decision Making in Intimate Relationships

DOI: 10.4236/psych.2012.39100   PDF   HTML     4,056 Downloads   6,423 Views   Citations


It is unsurprising when dissatisfied couples separate, but happy couples also dissolve their relationship. A hypothesized precursor to such outcomes is the availability of a better alternative partner. The current study examined regret over one’s current partner selection as the possible mechanism by which better alternatives leads to partner switching in otherwise happy unions. An undergraduate sample (N = 94) was administered several questionnaires; which included measures of partner regret, relationship satisfaction, the availability of more attractive alternative partners, and the probability of switching to an alternative in the future. For relatively satisfied individuals, the presence of a better alternative elicited regrets about their currently selected partner that, in turn, predicted greater hypothetical intentions to partner switch. Less satisfied individuals also endorsed partner regret, but irrespective of whether a current alternative was actually available. Only relatively satisfied individuals without more attractive alternatives endorsed low partner regret and, subsequently, greater intentions to remain in their current relationship.

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Mattson, R. , Franco-Watkins, A. & Cunningham, K. (2012). How Do I Regret Thee? Let Me Count My Alternatives: Regret and Decision Making in Intimate Relationships. Psychology, 3, 657-665. doi: 10.4236/psych.2012.39100.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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