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When Americans Think of Regrets, Love Tops List
Date:6/28/2011

By Jenifer Goodwin
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, June 28 (HealthDay News) -- Whether it's the great guy who got away or the dead-end relationship that went on way too long, regrets involving romance are most commonly cited by Americans when asked about things they wish they'd done differently.

Researchers at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign surveyed 370 adults aged 19 to 103 about their regrets. Each was asked to describe, in detail, one decision they came to rue.

About 18 percent cited regrets involving romance. That was followed closely by regrets about family (16 percent), education (13 percent) and career (12 percent), finance (10 percent) and parenting (9 percent).

Women were more likely than men to have regrets about romantic or family relationships. About 44 percent of the regrets described by women were about relationship mistakes compared to 19 percent of men's.

"It speaks to something psychologists have known for a long time. Women are typically charged with the role of maintaining and preserving relationships, so when things do go wrong, it's very spontaneous for women to think, 'I should have done it some other way,'" said senior study author Neal Roese, a psychologist and professor of marketing at Northwestern. "It's how men and women are raised in this culture."

Men, on the other hand, were more likely to have regrets about work or education -- 34 percent compared to women's 26 percent, the study found.

Many of the regrets around work involved missed opportunities -- turning down a job instead of going for it, failing to take risks that could have led to a more fulfilling career. "There was a sense of frustration that a job doesn't reflect inner passion," Roese said of the study recently published online in Social Psychological and Personality Science.

Those with less education were more likely
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