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Socio-Emotional Context and Adolescents' Decision Making: The Experience of Regret and Relief After Social Comparison


  • We thank the participants of the study and the teacher's team of the Saint Pierre Institute –Brunoy (France).


Many studies indicate that adolescents are hypersensitive to rewards in salient socio-emotional contexts. However, little is known about adolescents' sensitivity to complex negative emotions. To study the development of the ability to experience regret and relief, children, adolescents, and young adults performed a gambling task in a socio-emotional context of competition, in which they were informed that their outcome would be compared with that of a competitor. The context of competition impacted the feelings of regret and relief in adolescents. When adolescents experienced an initial negative outcome, their feeling of relief was reinforced. However, they did not seem to experience regret in the social context of competition. These results provide a possible explanation for adolescents' enhanced risk seeking.