According to the literature, imagining how things would have been better in the past (counterfactual thinking) serves to prepare for future, highlighting prescriptions that can be converted in future intentions and in a more appropriate behavior. This view implicitly assumes that people think about controllable elements in their counterfactual thoughts and that the content of imaginary thoughts about the past and the future is the same. However, some studies (Ferrante, Girotto, Stragà, & Walsh, 2013) found a temporal asymmetry between past and future hypothetical thinking: thinking about how a failure could be a success in the future (prefactual thinking) elicit more controllable elements than thinking about how the same failure could have been a success in the past. In the present study, we replicated and extended previous findings in a more ecological setting. Athletes who have just run a marathon were asked to generate counterfactual or prefactual thoughts. The results showed the same temporal asymmetry found in Ferrante et al. (2013). In addition, we found that focusing on training, instead of focusing on other elements, resulted in a greater intention to train harder for the next marathon in the prefactual condition, but not in the counterfactual condition. Taken together, these findings question the postulated preparatory function of counterfactual thinking.

Will You Train Harder for the Next Marathon? The Effect of Counterfactual and Prefactual Thinking on Marathon Runners’ Intentions.

STRAGÀ, MARTA;FERRANTE, DONATELLA
2014

Abstract

According to the literature, imagining how things would have been better in the past (counterfactual thinking) serves to prepare for future, highlighting prescriptions that can be converted in future intentions and in a more appropriate behavior. This view implicitly assumes that people think about controllable elements in their counterfactual thoughts and that the content of imaginary thoughts about the past and the future is the same. However, some studies (Ferrante, Girotto, Stragà, & Walsh, 2013) found a temporal asymmetry between past and future hypothetical thinking: thinking about how a failure could be a success in the future (prefactual thinking) elicit more controllable elements than thinking about how the same failure could have been a success in the past. In the present study, we replicated and extended previous findings in a more ecological setting. Athletes who have just run a marathon were asked to generate counterfactual or prefactual thoughts. The results showed the same temporal asymmetry found in Ferrante et al. (2013). In addition, we found that focusing on training, instead of focusing on other elements, resulted in a greater intention to train harder for the next marathon in the prefactual condition, but not in the counterfactual condition. Taken together, these findings question the postulated preparatory function of counterfactual thinking.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11368/2836335
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