New research has found that a lot of people who regret indulging in a casual one night stand continue with the same sexual behaviour.
According to the researchers, including Leif Edward Ottesen Kennair from Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), for the most part people continue with the same sexual behaviour and the same level of regret.
For the study, the team investigated over 500 men and women to find whether sexual regret is functional, that is, whether it contributes to any change in behaviour.
The participants in the study, published in the journal Evolutionary Psychology, answered a questionnaire about sexual regret two times, at approximately 4-5 month intervals. This approach makes it possible to study changes over shorter periods of time.
Both women and men might regret what they did the last time an opportunity for casual sex arose. But they often regret completely different choices.
Women tend to regret having had casual sex more than men. Men, on the other hand, regret not taking advantage of a casual sex opportunity markedly more than women.
According to the researchers, many psychologists assume that regret and other emotions have a function — that they will influence our behaviour so that we modify it.
For example, after experiencing negative emotions, we will change our behaviour to reduce the risk of having those negative feelings later, the researchers said.
If regret works that way, then wouldn’t men more often have casual sex the next time the opportunity arose? And, you would think that women’s regret would lead them to choose better partners, have less frequent casual sex or try harder to get into steady relationships, the researcher said.
But no, that’s not what happens. The findings from the study show that we don’t learn from what we perceived as a mistake, they added.