Previous research found that children first experience regret at 5 years and relief at 7. In two experiments, we explored three possibilities for this lag: (1) relief genuinely develops later than regret; (2) tests of relief have previously been artefactually difficult; or (3) evidence for regret resulted from false positives. In Experiment 1 (N=162 4- to 7-year-olds) children chose one of two cards that led to winning or losing tokens. Children rated their happiness then saw a better (regret) or worse (relief) alternative. Children re-rated their happiness. Regret after winning was first experienced at 4, regret after losing and relief after winning were experienced at 5 years and relief after losing at 7 years. Experiment 2 (N=297 5- to 8-year-olds) used a similar task but manipulated children's responsibility for the outcome. Greater responsibility for the outcome resulted in a greater likelihood of an experience of regret and relief. Results support that previous tests of relief were artefactually difficult and regret and relief are experienced earlier than previously thought.
|Number of pages||16|
|Journal||Cognition & emotion|
|Early online date||14 Nov 2011|
|Publication status||Published - 2012|