Behavior-goal consistency and the role of anticipated and retrospective regret in self-regulation.

Although there has been a considerable amount of research on regret, little research has investigated how both anticipated and retrospective regret are functional in self-regulation. The present study investigated these issues and assessed the role of consistency factors in mediating the effects of both kinds of regret on goal-related behaviors, such as quality study habits. More specifically, we presented a functional model of anticipated and retrospective regret in self-regulation along with a longitudinal study testing several of its assumptions. This research measured academic-related goals and study habits, along with measures of anticipated and retrospective regret, behavior-goal consistency, trait conscientiousness, and “desire to change” motivation. Following the consistency-fit theory of regret (e.g., C. E. Seta & Seta, 2013; J. J. Seta, McElroy, & Seta, 2001), we assumed that both anticipated and retrospective regret would be functional in promoting behaviors related to academic achievement. A series of analyses revealed that (a) regret predicted measures of good study habits, mediated through anticipated behavior-goal inconsistency; (b) poorer study habits were associated with higher levels of regret, mediated through measures of behavior-goal inconsistency; (c) participants’ desire to change their past study behaviors moderated the relationship between retrospective regret and anticipated regret; and (d) conscientiousness predicted higher levels of anticipated regret, mediated through anticipated behavior-goal inconsistency. Finally, we expected trait conscientiousness to act as a moderator between measures of regret and measures of study habits, but only preliminary support for this claim emerged. This research was discussed in relation to a proposed consistency-fit model of self-regulation. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)