If Only ...: With Guests Stirling Hart & Colin Camerer

October 12, 2020
You wouldn’t be human if you didn’t have at least some regrets. The trick is knowing when (and how) to let things go—and when to use regret productively.

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After you listen

The question of whether to sell a stock is one that causes investors a lot of angst and indecision.

The question of whether to sell a stock is one that causes investors a lot of angst and indecision.

In a past episode titled “Spoiled for Choice,” we looked at how decision-making can be hampered by our desire to avoid the painful emotion of regret. In fact, regret aversion can cause people to abandon certain decisions entirely.

In this episode of Choiceology with Katy Milkman, we look more closely at regret itself.

Stirling Hart is a professional lumberjack. He’s also a world-class lumberjack sports athlete. He has travelled the world competing against the best of the best in events such as the underhand chop, the spring board, the single buck, and the standing block chop. These grueling and dangerous tasks require explosive strength, accuracy, and nerves of steel.

In 2016, Stirling Hart represented Canada at the Stihl Timbersports® World Championship in Stuttgart, Germany. He was dominating the events until he came to the hot saw (an event involving a chainsaw built from a modified motorcycle engine). That’s when one split-second decision changed the course of the competition. You’ll hear how that one moment affected Stirling for months afterward.

Stirling Hart lives and works in Squamish, British Columbia, Canada.

Next, Katy speaks with Colin Camerer about the neuroscience of regret. Colin explains how regret arises and how it can affect our behavior, for better and for worse. You’ll hear about a fascinating study by Tom Gilovich identifying regret in Olympic medalists, and you’ll learn about the ways that regret can influence investment decisions. You’ll also gain valuable insight on how to minimize some of the negative effects of regret.

Colin Camerer is a Robert Kirby Professor of Behavioral Finance and Economics at the California Institute of Technology, where he teaches cognitive psychology and economics. You can read more about regret in his paper “Neural Evidence of Regret and Its Implications for Investor Behavior.”

Choiceology is an original podcast from Charles Schwab.

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