Winston Churchill once famously quipped, “I never worry about action, but only inaction.” Churchill, however, may have been an exception to the rule, with psychological research suggesting that people are more concerned about the consequences of actions than inactions. During the so-called “action-effect”, first reported by Kahneman and Tversky (1982), people regret an action leading to a bad outcome more than they do an inaction leading to the same bad outcome
In the current study, Yeung and Feldman (2022) propose a wide-ranging meta-analysis to characterise evidence for the action-effect, focusing in particular on emotions and counterfactual thoughts – that is, mental representations of alternative decisions (or “what if” thoughts). Consistent with the expected consequences of the action-effect on emotion, they predict that action will be associated with stronger negative emotions than inaction (when outcomes are negative), and with stronger positive emotions than inaction (when outcomes are positive). The authors also expect action to be associated with a greater abundance of counterfactual thought compared to inaction.
In addition to examining the overall reliability of the action-effect (plus a range of exploratory questions), the study will also examine the extent to which the action-effect is moderated by temporal distance (with more recent events or behaviours predicted to associated with a stronger action effect), the type of study design, prior outcomes and social norms, the specificity (vs. generality) of the prior event, and whether the study employed a hypothetical scenario or a real-life event.
The Stage 1 manuscript was evaluated over two rounds of in-depth review. Based on detailed responses to the reviewers' comments, the recommender judged that the manuscript met the Stage 1 criteria and awarded in-principle acceptance (IPA).
URL to the preregistered Stage 1 protocol: https://osf.io/4pvs6
Level of bias control achieved: Level 2. At least some data/evidence that will be used to answer the research question has been accessed and partially observed by the authors, but the authors certify that they have not yet observed the key variables within the data that will be used to answer the research question
List of eligible PCI RR-friendly journals:
1. Kahneman, D., & Tversky, A. (1982). The psychology of preferences. Scientific American, 246(1), 160-173. https://doi.org/10.1038/scientificamerican0182-160
2. Yeung, S. K. & Feldman, G. (2022). Action-Inaction Asymmetries in Emotions and Counterfactual Thoughts: Meta-Analysis of the Action Effect, in principle acceptance of Version 3 by Peer Community in Registered Reports. https://osf.io/4pvs6
DOI or URL of the report: https://osf.io/tpbaw
Version of the report: v2
The three reviewers from the previous round kindly returned to evaluate your revised submission, and I'm happy to report that all are broadly positive. There remain some minor matters to resolve concerning the potential inclusion of sensitivity analyses, details of analysis plans regarding moderators, and clarification of assumptions. These should be straightforward to address in a final Stage 1 revision.
Following discussion among the Managing Board, I can now also report the bias control level that has been determined for your submission under the PCI RR taxonomy. In reaching this decision we considered carefully the arguments you put forward for Level 6 based on your correspondence of 16 July 2021. The consensus view among the Managing Board is that meta-analyses, systematic reviews, scoping reviews, and systematic maps can never achieve Level 6 under the PCI RR taxonomony because, unlike studies that will generate new data, the data that furnish these article types must already exist, even if not fully observed, analysed and interpreted. Most such submissions will achieve Level 3, 2 or 1 because at least some of the included data are likely to be in the public domain and will have been at least partially accessed by authors. In your case, because your meta-analysis includes some of your own authored work, for which you have not only accessed but necessarily observed the data at least partially, we have determined that your submission achieves Level 2 (keeping in mind that where a study includes elements at multiple levels, as your study does, it is PCI RR policy to assign the lowest level of applicable bias control). Because of the already rigorous methodological requirements for meta-analyses, systematic reviews, scoping reviews, and systematic maps at PCI RR, we are, however, waiving the usual requirement for additional stringent analytic corrections for potential bias that normally apply at Level 2. This means that you can proceed with your study as proposed and it will achieve a Level 2 designation. This decision from the Managing Board is final, but if you have any questions then feel free to contact me.
Provided you are able to address the reviewers' points in a revised manuscript and response, in-principle acceptance should be forthcoming without requiring further in-depth Stage 1 review.
DOI or URL of the report: https://osf.io/8etvb/
Three reviewers with a range of methodological and field-specific expertise have now assessed the Stage 1 manuscript. As you will see, the evaluations are broadly positive, with the majority of comments identifying aspects of the proposal that would benefit from clarification and/or elaboration, as well as strengthening of the rationale, and ensuring tight linking between the sampling plan (power analysis) and analysis plans. Based on these reviews, we are pleased to invite a revised submission along with a point-by-point response to the reviews.
As you know, the Managing Board has also been considering what level in the PCI RR bias control taxonomy is appropriate for your submission. This remains an ongoing discussion -- a unanimous position has not yet been agreed as there are arguments in favour of both positions (Level 6 vs. Level 4) -- but I wanted to let you know that we will reach a decision on this prior to the awarding of in-principle acceptance and will consult with you in due course. For now, there is no need to address this issue in your revised submission or response.