From Brexit to Biden: What responses to national outcomes tell us about the nature of relief

Sara Lorimer, Teresa McCormack, Agnieszka J. Jaroslawska, Christoph Hoerl, Sarah R. Beck, Matthew Johnston, Aidan Feeney*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Recent claims contrast relief experienced because a period of unpleasant uncertainty has ended and an outcome has materialized (temporal relief)—regardless of whether it is one’s preferred outcome—with relief experienced because a particular outcome has occurred, when the alternative was unpalatable (counterfactual relief). Two studies (N = 993), one run the day after the United Kingdom left the European Union and one the day after Joe Biden’s inauguration, confirmed these claims. “Leavers” and Biden voters experienced high levels of relief, and less regret and disappointment than “Remainers” and Trump voters. “Remainers” and Trump voters showed an effect of precursor, experiencing little relief about the outcome that had occurred but stronger relief that a decision had been implemented. Only Trump voters who believed the election was over showed this precursor effect. Results suggest at least two different triggering conditions for relief and indicate a role for anticipated relief in voting behavior.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1095-1104
Number of pages10
JournalSocial Psychological and Personality Science
Issue number7
Early online date30 Dec 2021
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • relief
  • regret
  • Brexit
  • presidential election
  • counterfactual emotions


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