Saying goodbye and saying it well: Consequences of a (not) well-rounded ending

Bettina Schwörer, Nora Rebekka Krott, Gabriele Oettingen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Every period in life eventually comes to an often foreseeable end, yet research on how people cope with foreseeable endings is sparse. In 7 studies, we investigated whether people benefit from ending in a well-rounded way, that is, with the feeling that all that could have been done was done and with a sense of closure. Across all studies, we observed that well-rounded endings were associated with positive affect, little regret, and an easy transition into the next life phase. In Studies 1 through 3, the more well-rounded participants recalled a specific ending of a life phase the more they reported positive affect, less regret, and easier transitions into the next life phase. In Studies 4 through 6, we conceptually replicated these results, adjusting for possible memory biases in Studies 1 through 3. In Study 7, participants confronted with a well-rounded ending (vs. a not well-rounded ending) reported more positive affect and experienced an easier transition, as indicated by better performance on a Stroop task. The findings point to the importance of ending in a well-rounded way so as to experience more positive affect, fewer regrets, and easier life transitions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21-33
Number of pages13
JournalMotivation Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2020


  • Closure
  • Life transitions
  • Positive affect
  • Regret
  • Well-rounded endings

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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