Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 3rd 2014 Contents SBG16 CASE STUDY
SUNDAY BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt AUGUST 3 • 2014
The following guide is intended
to aid readers in analysing the
case, consumer choice and
regret. When analysing a case,
remember that there are many
possible approaches and solu-
tions and the goal is to develop your analytical
and problem-solving skills rather than figure
out "the one right answer."
Rita s boyfriend has bought her a Samsung
S5 smartphone to replace the phone she cur-
rently has. At first, Rita was thrilled with the
gift even though she had secretly been thinking
of purchasing an Apple iPhone. Both phones
have many similar features but after a few
days Rita has felt her desire for the iPhone
beginning to outweigh her initial appreciation
of her boyfriend s gift. With time for exchang-
ing the phone about to expire and with no
way to reach her boyfriend, Rita has to decide
whether to keep the phone or exchange it for
the phone she truly desires.
Q1. What is the dilemma that Rita faces?
In this situation Rita is trying to balance
her self-interest with the interests of someone
she cares for. Both outcomes have the potential
to lead to feelings of regret and she is trying
to choose a course of action that will minimise
her post-decision regret. Research on consumer
regret has shown that individuals experience
regret because they think about the past and
mentally review what they could have done.
Consumers also tend to regret actions they
have performed (sins of commission) more
than not taking actions that they should have
(sins of omission). This arises because taking
action arouses stronger emotional responses
than not taking action and maintaining the
It should be noted, however, that while the
regret from an action is stronger in the short
term due to awareness of the action it also
fades relatively quickly.
Regret over an inaction (maintaining the
status quo) is not felt to the same extent in
the short run but festers and lingers for a
much longer period. Rita must therefore decide
whether she prefers to experience a stronger
short-term feeling of regret if she exchanges
the phone or prefers to experience a long-
term feeling of regret that lingers if she decides
to keep the phone.
Q2. Which decision (keeping or exchanging
her phone) will minimise her regret?
If Rita decides to keep her boyfriend s gift
of the Samsung S5, she would experience long
lasting regret over what might have been, had
she exchanged the phone.
Failing to act now, will thus cause the feelings
of regret to linger for a longer period although
the level of regret is likely to be experienced
at a much lower level of intensity. The alter-
native is for Rita to exchange the S5 for the
phone she truly desires.
Although she is likely to feel a great deal of
personal satisfaction at getting the phone of
her choice, this decision will result in the
greatest short-term negative outcome (her
boyfriend s hurt feelings).
On the other hand, the intensity of the neg-
ative emotion arising from the decision to seek
her self- interest and disappoint her boyfriend
may cause greater remorse in the short run
but this feeling will tend to be short-lived and
fade over time.
Rita s level of regret also depends in large
part on the importance she places on her own
happiness versus the disappointment her
boyfriend will feel if she exchanges the phone.
If Rita places more importance on her self
interest then she will experience greater regret
if she maintains the status quo and keeps the
S5 rather than exchanging it.
Conversely, if she places more importance
on the feelings of her boyfriend than her own
happiness, she will experience greater regret
if she decides to exchange the S5 for the Apple
iPhone she really wants.
In conclusion, a useful strategy that Rita
(or any consumer) can use to deal with choices
with the potential for regret is to anticipate
how the decision outcome will look in hind-
In this case, how would she feel if she looked
back at her choice 5 years from now? Research
suggests that feelings of regret are mitigated
when the consumer reflects and concludes
that the decision was appropriate under the
Consumer choice and regret
Research on consumer
regret has shown that
regret because they think
about the past and
mentally review what
they could have done.
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