A lot of individuals believe regret must be a good thing since it helps you not replicate a mistake, right?
But that turns out to not be the situation. Not even when it comes to casual sex, based on new study from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology’s (NTNU) Department of Psychology.
“For the most part, people continue with the same sexual behavior and the same level of regret,” says Professor Leif Edward Ottesen Kennair.
So, we repeat what we thought was a mistake, and we regret it just as much the next time around.
Professor Kennair and colleagues professor Mons Bendixen and Postdoctoral fellow Trond Viggo Grøntvedt have investigated whether sexual regret is functional, that is, whether it results in any alteration in behavior.
The participants in the study answered a questionnaire about sexual regret two times, at approximately 4.5 month intervals. This strategy makes it possible to study changes over shorter periods of time.
Both women and men may worry about what they did the last time an opportunity for casual intercourse arose. However, they often regret completely different choices.
Ladies have a tendency to feel bad about having had casual sex over men. Men, on the flip side, regret not using a casual sex opportunity markedly over women.
“We wanted to examine if their level of regret contributed to a change in behavior the next time around,” says Bendixen.
“A lot of emotions are functional, like disgust that protects against infection and fear that protects against danger. An evolutionary approach has helped us understand anxiety by understanding the function of fear: fight-flight-freeze is about avoiding danger and defending ourselves against it,” says Kennair.
A lot of people presume that emotions have a purpose
Many psychologists presume that regret and other emotions have a purpose: that they will influence our behavior so that we modify it. For instance, after having negative emotions, we’ll change our behavior to reduce the risk of getting those negative emotions afterwards.
“Researchers have found that most people believe this is true for regret. They assume that regret is actually a helpful negative feeling. People assume it guides them not to repeat what they regretted,” says Grøntvedt.
If regret works that way, then would not guys more often have casual sex the next time the opportunity arose? And, you would think that women’s sorrow would lead them to select better spouses, have less frequent casual sex or try harder to enter relationships that are constant.
But no, that’s not what happens. The findings from the analysis show that we do not understand from what we perceived as a error.
So why is this? Why don’t we learn from our mistakes?
Probably because our behavior Is dependent upon our character, Which is something very different and more complicated than a shorter or more prolonged feelings.
We are mostly just who we are, and when the opportunity arises and horniness takes over, or doesn’t, we probably react just like the time before.
“We are not that surprised,” Kennair says. “If regret helped, would not most sinners eventually become saints? What do you regret the most often? Has it changed your behavior?” he ask
Regret is flexible, not continuous. Or, as psychologists say, regret is adaptive. It varies based on the conditions.
“We have repeated that regret is adaptive in all our articles on the subject in recent years. And now we have tested it,” says Kennair.
Nobody else has tested regret for sexual behavior. Perhaps scientists have assumed that they knew enough? Even outstanding people in the area have assumed that sorrow would help us understand.
“We found little information on this topic. But both most researchers and people in general believe that regret is wise,” says Grøntvedt.
Do you must spend as much time being regretful?
“Maybe it would be smart instead to think about what we regret in everyday life, and what we actually do so often that we get ample opportunity to regret it,” Kennair says.
Have you worked recently? Can you eat a lot? Done everything you should? Said something you shouldn’t have? Does it help to regret things sometimes? No? This is somewhat like ruminating, which a lot of people with depression presume is a smart thing to do, even if they eventually become depressed from doing this.
“And yet, there are some folks who think that depressive ruminating and worry are a good idea. But the way we treat depression and generalized anxiety disorders is by helping people to stop ruminating and to stop worrying. Not everything people do, think or feel is an evolutionary adaptation – sometimes it is not appropriate either,” Kennair says.
Related Journal Article: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1474704921998333