However, the researchers said the results are ‘inconsistent’ with the conventional theory of choice. In such theory, people who are on the margins should, on average, report equal happiness, regardless of which decision they made.

Professor Steven Levitt, of the University of Chicago, said: ‘Society teaches us “quitters never win and winners never quit”, but in reality the data from my experiment suggests we would all be better off if we did more quitting.

‘A good rule of thumb in decision making is, whenever you cannot decide what you should do, choose the action that represents a change, rather than continuing the status quo.’