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Flashcards in SPRING Counterfactual Thinking Deck (50):

what is counterfactual thinking

how things could have turned out different
change to desired outcome
explain the past and prep for the future - affect decisions and future intent


what is semifactual thinking

even if.. then...still
change events leaduing up to outcome but not change outcome


antecedents of coutnerfactual thinking

what triggers counterfactuals?
closeness of event and negative outcome/affect


closeness of event - antecedent of counterfactual thinking (kahenman and tversky)

how close you are to percieve something as having nearly occured
mr crane and mr tees - lateness to catch flight - regret flight that 5 mins delay and still miss


negative outcome/affect - antecedent of couterfactuals

more counterfactuals if outcome was neg>positive or makes someone feel worse
change to desired
BUT counterfac can have a knock on effect - feel worse


what do people think about in counterfactuals

generate alternatives to reality
BUT limited -
appear to be regularities in outcomes generated


what are the 5 main couterfactual biases

exceptionality, controllability, temporal order, causal order, action effect


describe exceptionality effect

more likely to change what is an exception to the norm
kahenman and tversky - mr jones car crash
can be exception to habit (intrapersonal) or exception to social rules (interpersonal)


describe controllability

focus on aspect that is under the persons control opposed to changing external factors
regardless of if uncontrollable factor is internal or external to the protagonist


describe temporal order

last event most salient and lead to counterfactual even though each event leading up to it was independent
ie last score of a game


describe causal order

if events are in causal order (not independent) then likely to change the first event


describe action effect

tendency to regret actions in short term and regret non actions in long term


two consequences of counterfactuals

impact future actions and choices
contrast effects and causal inferences


describe contrast effects

counterfactual acts as an anchor to which reality is compared
upwards or downwards comparison
feel worse if counterfactual better outcome and feel better if counterfactual is worse


describe causal inferences

mental undoing puts weight onto what can change
implicated feelings of blame and guilt
identify causal explanation and flagged as something to change in the future


how do we make judgements in the causaility of events on outcomes?

causal judgements
responsibiity and blame
affective consequences


describe causal judgements (mccloy and byrne)

how we assign weight onto the cause of an outcome
olympic runners and pain killers -
causal drug in winning > counterfactual 6.23 > semifactual 5.25 > control 4.26
generate own statements of causailty - coutnerfactual increase causality of events and semi decrease


describe responsibility and blame

more likely to assign blame if change in beh likely to have diff outcome
more likely to assign blame if chane in action undoes the outcome than when it doesnt


describe affective consequences

conterfactuals linked to regret, shame, elation, joy, suprise, disappointment and relief - depends on the focus and direction


affective consequence of counterfactuals - mccloy and byrne

counterfactual increases regret
semifactual decreases regret


niedenthal, tagney and gavanski 1995 affective consequence

if focus on behaviour then feeel guilt
ie if only i had done ...
if focus on personality then feel shame
ie if only i wasnt so...


roese 1994 affective consequence of counterfactual

downward coutnerfactual - feel better
upward counterfactual - feel worse
BUT upward relate to performance - feel worse so try more next time and improve in future (anagram task)


why are counterfactuals useful

onterfactuals identify what we can change
semifactuals identify what we cant
allows reflection on past actions to prevent negative consequences in the future


when are we more likely to engage in downwards counterfactuals

whe nthe situation is not repeated and is percieved as out of out control
makes feel better about the situation and reflect about how could have been worse and wasnt


k+T mr jones
exceptionality effect

leave ealy- change time
diff route - change route
- dont focus on what is out of his control


medvec madey and gilovich 1995
closeness antecendent of couterfactuals

silver medallists feel worse than bronze
closer to goal of gold whereas bronze just happy that did better than most below them (not as close to gold)


read life example of closeness to goal as an antecedent of counterfactual thinking

stepping into road and realising there is an oncoming car
"if i didnt notice that car i could have died"


davis et al 1995 neg outcome and antecedent of counterfactuals

more counterfactuals generated following those who recently expereinced death of child - grief
neg affect = increased counterfac and
counterfac = increased neg affect


byrne 2016 dysfunctional counterfactuals and neg affect

regret that follows from counterfactual thinking is associated with depression
depressed people reported to generate more unreasonable alternatives to life events


markman and miller 2006 dysfunctional counterfactuals and neg affect

mild to mod depressed - more counterfactuals about controllable aspects of neg academic events - put things into perspective
severely depressed - more counterfactuals about uncontrollable, unreasonable and characterological - exacerbate feelings of self blame and worsens symptoms


define an unreasonable counterfactual
byrne 2016

can by definition be controllable
unlikely to be reasonable as unlikely to be able to be performed fully by the individual
"if only i never put myself is risky situations, there would be no chance of me getting hurt"


define intrapersonal exceptions of normality

adherence to or deviation from habitual modes of behaviour


define interpersonal exceptions of normality

adherence to or deviations from societal norms and expectations


gavanski and wells 1989 exceptionality and norm correspondence effect

'andrea' fails exam
- failure norm to self
- failure exceptional
2 normal and 2 exceptional events described that led up to exam
NCE - neg outcomes caused by neg antecedent, exceptional outcome caused by exceptional antecedent and vise versa
BUT only intrapersonal (self failure)


describe girotto, legrenzi and rizzo 1991 controllability - mr bianchi

mr bianchi
4 alt to death of wife based on active decision actions or passive uncontrollable events
ie enter bar, flock of sheep, lorry in car park, tree trunk in road
more ocunterfactuals if bar > other as controllable by protagonist


miller and gunasegaram 1990
temporal order

alicia and laura toss coin and if both get the same then win $1000
alicia first and toss tails
laura second and toss heads
- laura more guily even though chances independent


byrne et al 2000 temporal order

two contestants win £1,000 if pick the same color card
pick black - interruption and restart - pick black and next pick red - temp effect, blame first person
pick black - interruption and restart - pick red and next pick black then temp eliminated
+ depends on the order of events in the world, not their descriptive order
- temporality effect arises because first event is presupposed and so immutable; elimination of
the temporality effect arises because availability of counterfactual alternative to the first event creates an opposing tendency to mutate


wells taylor and turtle 1987 william scenario
causal order

man takes shortcut - broken glass- flat tyre - speeds - speed ticket
most likely to try and undo the shortcut


causal order
david and lehman 1995

lose spouse or child in motor accident or to SIDS
both report mentally undoing loss
ie lose baby from SIDS regret not acting on fuss from baby


gilovich and medvec 1994 action effect

dave and jim at elite uni
dave stays where he is - doesnt like and wishes gone
jim go to uni - doesnt like and wished stayed
report jim regret more short term but dave regret more long term
- psychological processess decrease regret of actions taken and increase regret of actions no acted upon


kahenman 1995 short term and long term regret

short term = "hot regret"
- direct reaction following outcome
long term = "wistfull regret"
- less intense, assoc with sad fantasies of what might have been


zeelenberg et al 2002 exceptionality override
regretting short term inaction

regret of ST and LT deopends on norm of situation
fb team with win or losing record
more regret if change team strategy if winning
more regret if dont change team strategy if losing


byrne and mceleney 1999
exceptionality override of ST and LT regret

undo LT inaction when consequences of possible action are unknown/may be better than consequence of inaction (upward)
undo action in LT when alt consequence is known


ritov and baron 1990 action aand ST and LT regret

risks of bad outcome from vaccine smaller than disease outcome
but inaction minimise regret even though increases risk


define upward counterfactuals

better outcome to reality
feel worse
amp regret guilt and shame


define downwards counterfactuals

worse outcome to reality
feel better
amp relief satisfaction and sympathy


teigen and jensen 2011 downward counterfactuals

tourist survivors of 2004 tsunami in south east asia
spec how things could have been worse and view selves as survivors > victims


macrae 1992 responsibility and blame

first time at restaurant = recomment greater find following accident (unusual) than at restaurant go to a lot


zeelenberg and pieters 2001
counterfac and responsibility

if feel personally responsible for outcome then incease regret


roese 1994 counterfac and responsibility

feelings can determine intent to change in the future
downward make feel better
- when no opp to change then increase downward (teigen and jensen tsunami)
BUT upward feel worse - increase intent to change - anagram task