Counterfactual Thinking and Experiences of Regret

1732 Words7 Pages
Counterfactual thinking and experiences of regret Introduction Counterfactual thinking is the cognitive process in which individuals can simulate alternative realities, to think about how things could have turned out differently, with statements such as ‘what if’ and ‘if only’. Counterfactuals can be either upward, in which alternative realities are improved, or downward, in which alternative realities are worsened. Reflecting on previous outcomes can make individuals experience regret and this review will focus on the effects of counterfactual thinking and feelings of regret, which has been referred to as a ‘counterfactual emotion’. Opportunities and regret Roese & Summerville (2005) put forward the idea that regret is based…show more content…
Pierro, Leder, Mannetti, Higgins, Kruglanski, & Aiello (2008) investigated the effects of assessment and locomotion modes on engaging in counterfactual thinking and experiencing post-decisional regret. They predicted that people with a higher assessment mode would generate more counterfactuals and experience more regret as assessment requires critical evaluation and generating comparisons, they also predicted that people with a higher locomotion mode would generate less counterfactuals as locomotion suggests an individual is less likely to pay attention to attention and more likely to focus on moving from state to state without interruption. To test these hypotheses participants were asked in two studies to imagine purchasing something but it has a negative outcome and in another study they were asked to recall a time when they purchased something and it had a negative outcome, regret was measured in each study. The results showed that participants rated higher in the assessment mode generated more counterfactuals after a negative outcome and experienced more regret, while participants rated higher in the locomotion mode generated less counterfactuals and experienced less regret. Summerville (2011) took a step further by incorporating the functional theory
Open Document