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Relieving the regret for maximizers: The role of construal level across comparable and non-comparable choice sets

Louise May Hassan (Bangor Business School, Bangor University, Bangor, UK)
Edward Shiu (Bangor Business School, Bangor University, Bangor, UK)
Miriam McGowan (Department of Marketing, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK)

European Journal of Marketing

ISSN: 0309-0566

Article publication date: 6 December 2019

Issue publication date: 6 December 2019




Prior research consistently found maximizers to experience greater regret over their choice than satisficers. Moreover, research also found maximizers to be trapped in a “maximization-regret-maximization” cycle. This paper aims to assess the role of construal level theory in alleviating regret felt by maximizers.


The authors examine the construal level theory (CLT) in conjunction with the choice context (comparable and non-comparable choices). Three experimental studies tested our assertion that a match between CLT mindset and choice set relieves regret for maximizers.


The authors show maximizers experience similar levels of regret compared to satisficers when considering comparable options in a concrete mindset, and non-comparable options in an abstract mindset. However, maximizers experience heightened regret in comparison to satisficers when considering non-comparable (comparable) options in a concrete (abstract) mindset. Choice difficulty mediates our effect.

Research limitations/implications

Future research is needed to replicate our results in real-life settings.

Practical implications

If marketers think that their product is likely to be compared with other comparable products, they should adopt product-specific information that focusses on how the product would be used. However, if marketers think that consumers will compare across non-comparable products, then they should focus on why their product is the most suitable to fulfil consumers’ needs.


This research represents the first attempt at reducing regret for maximizers and answers the call for an examination of the relationship between maximization and CLT. The research adds to the maximization literature by evidencing a CLT-based strategy that attenuates the negative experience of regret for maximizers.



This research was part funded by a British Academy Small Grant for data collection. The authors are grateful for the help in data collection in Studies 2 and 3 by a team of research assistants. The authors further thank Professor Deirdre Shaw of Glasgow University for her contributions at the early stage of this project.


Hassan, L.M., Shiu, E. and McGowan, M. (2019), "Relieving the regret for maximizers: The role of construal level across comparable and non-comparable choice sets", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 54 No. 2, pp. 282-304.



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