Regret Theory – Explanation, Evaluation and Implications for the Law

This Note discusses regret theory, which offers an alternative explanation of rational behavior in risky or uncertain situations. Unlike traditional law and economics, which is based on expected utility theory, regret theory posits that individuals either rejoice or experience regret after making a decision, and that the anticipation of these feelings influences choices ex ante. In recent years, studies have shown the robustness of regret theory, particularly when individuals compare action to inaction, in disparate feedback environments, and when decisional agency is altered. These, and other factors, influence regret theory’s impact on litigant behavior, as well as on the law of contracts, insurance, and torts.