The Consequences of Doing Nothing: Inaction Inertia as Avoidance of Anticipated Counterfactual Regret

Orit E. Tykocinski, Thane S. Pittman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

110 Scopus citations

Abstract

When an attractive action opportunity has been forgone, individuals tend to decline a substantially less attractive current opportunity in the same action domain, even though, in an absolute sense, it still has positive value. The hypothesis that continued inaction (inaction inertia) occurs in the service of avoiding anticipated regret was tested. In Experiments 1 and 2, when repeated contact with the forgone opportunity (and, hence, the experience of regret) was made unavoidable the tendency toward subsequent inaction decreased. The inaction inertia effect was also reduced when avoidance costs were increased (Experiment 3) or when the initial reason for avoidance was removed (Experiment 4). Experiment 4 included a thought-listing task that provided direct evidence for the role of regret in producing inaction inertia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)607-616
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Volume75
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jan 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'The Consequences of Doing Nothing: Inaction Inertia as Avoidance of Anticipated Counterfactual Regret'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this