Social Psychology: Counterfactual Thinking

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Introduction Regret is classified as a negative feeling. As a general perception people who have regrets are considered to be sorry for any of their actions. However, it should be noted that regret is a different emotion that guilt. Just like many other people, I also have many regrets in life. Some of them are not very important, while the others are significant to me as they continue to affect my life in a negative way. In this paper I shall discuss three of my major regrets in life in context with the counterfactual thinking in social psychology. Counterfactual thinking The literal meaning of counterfactual thinking is the thought process that is contrary to the facts. When a person tries to change the antecedent that actually happened and then analyzes a situation that could have resulted with the changed antecedents, he begins to think how the situation could have turned out to be different than what it is now. For example, when a person survives a road traffic accident, he begins to think how he could have prevented the accident from taking place. He starts to think that "if" he was not over speeding then he might have not gotten into accident. This is the imagination of a counterfactual situation. Studies have suggested that counterfactual thoughts have the potential to produce negative feelings; nonetheless in rare instances they also produce some beneficial and functional effects (Roese, 1997). When people start having counterfactual thoughts, they also start
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