Buyer’s remorse is when you buy something and regret the purchase later on. This feeling is mostly associated with the purchase of expensive items, but it can also arouse in cases when you buy even some creepy items. It is something psychological and research studies have proven that emotions influence one’s behaviors. So how regret impacts one’s behavior, and what are the strategies a customer who regrets a purchase follow to regulate this painful feeling?
A new study conducted at the University of Tunis El Manar, Tunisia, has tried to answer these questions. Researchers said that regret is a cognitive emotion people regulate the way they regulate any other emotions. “They engage in self-regulation process… Self-regulation refers to the process by which people initiate, adjust, interrupt, terminate, or otherwise alter actions to promote attainment of personal goals, plans, or standards” the study stated.
Scientists mentioned that “in principle, the negative consequences of regret can be regulated in two ways:
- Individuals can either actively change the conditions that led to regret;
- Or internally adapt the behavior of regret by adjusting their perceptions of responsibility and control of regret.
Something referred to by researchers as primary and secondary control. “The primary control strategies are directed to produce a change in the external world. And secondary control strategies are directed towards the optimization of motivational resources and perceptions (related to oneself)… Responses related to regret are more oriented towards oneself, while those related to dissatisfaction are more oriented towards others. The responses related to regret tend to be internal and silent, in the presence of introspective emotions such as shame, while those related to dissatisfaction tend to be oriented outward in the presence of emotions such as anger and frustration” the study stated.
After results analysis, researchers stated that “it has been shown that people are often motivated to regulate their post-decisional regrets. It is a painful feeling which hides behind an imbalance and psychological discomfort sometimes unbearable.”
So, in order to regulate customer regret, researchers stated different strategies customers follow after making a purchase they are not satisfied of.
- “People can engage in activities focused on the objective to manage the level of regret felt by lowering the level of objectives fixed beforehand… lowering the level of objectives is a way to reduce the level of the objective to be reached by a decision to regulate their post-purchase regret.”
- “Regulation of regret can also be made through strategies focused on the decision: To focus on the decision by canceling it altogether or justifying it by denying the responsibility of the error allows managing the level of regret felt.
- “People can also focus on the alternative even to mitigate their post decisional regret. The regulation strategies of regret focused on the alternative consist in reversing or changing the chosen alternative, re-evaluating its quality but also abandoning it altogether.
- “When no action of return, of cancellation or change of decision is possible, a psychological work of reparation can serve to restore this psychological balance. So people can have themselves convinced that no error was committed. They adopt a positive attitude, considering only the positive aspects of the decision. Similarly, they can have themselves convinced that even if it was a negative experience, it is thanks to negative experiences that we learn to improve regret.”
- “People sometimes seek, after an experience of regret, a change of mood to forget their negative experiences. This will help regulate regret in them, for it is a way to overcome the past and minimize counterfactual thoughts.”
We are not always satisfied with the purchase decisions we make, and it happens when we pay for something and later on discover that we do not like it, or the amount we have paid in turn is much higher than its real value. Or we simply realize after a while that we have bought a useless item we’ll never use. So, we get into this painful feeling of regret. But, scientifically we always tend to regulate this feeling the way we do with any other feeling, and follow in this, a number of strategies and skills to come over this negative experience.