NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Americans regret love and family matters more than financial mistakes, according to a study from the Kellogg University of Management and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Researchers  analyzed data from a telephone survey of 370 adults in the U.S. in which subjects were asked to describe one regret in detail, including the time in which the regret occurred, and whether the regret was based on an action on their part or inaction.

Just over 18% of respondents said that romance was their primary source of regret, while 15.9% attributed their regrets to family and 13.1% weren’t too happy about the choices they made with regards to their education. Additionally, 12.2% felt they could have better managed their careers.

Financial matters ranked fifth, with 9.9% of respondents citing money matters as their biggest regret. This was followed by parenting (9%) and health (6.3%). Less consequential regrets  included  those related to friends, spirituality, community, leisure and "self" (though perhaps the respondents, like us, were unclear what that meant.)

According to research, people were evenly divided on regrets of situations that they acted on versus those that they did not act on. However, people who regretted events that they did not act on tended to hold on to that regret longer.

Researchers also concluded that regardless of whether or not a person regretted a lost love or lack of education, regret played an integral part in future decision-making.

“We found that one’s life circumstances, such as accomplishments or shortcomings, inject considerable fuel into the fires of regret,” Neal Roese, the lead researcher for the study said. “Although regret is painful, it is an essential component of the human experience.”

Perhaps if we were more apt to regret past financial mistakes, we would be better at managing our money.

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