Abstract Why do individuals mentally modify reality (“If it hadn’t rained, we would have won the game”)? According to the dominant view, counterfactuals primarily serve to prepare future performance. In fact, individuals who have just failed a task tend to modify the uncontrollable features of their attempt (“If the game rules were different, I would have won it”), generating counterfactuals that are unlikely to play any preparatory role. By contrast, they generate prefactuals that focus on the controllable features of their ensuing behavior (“If I concentrate more, I will win next game”). Here we test whether this tendency is robust and general. Studies 1a and 1b replicate this tendency and show that it occurs regardless of whether individuals think about their failures or their successes. Study 2 shows that individuals generate relatively few controllable counterfactuals, unless explicitly prompted to do so. These results conflict with the dominant view suggesting that the main function of counterfactuals might not be preparatory.

Questioning the preparatory function of counterfactual thinking

Stragà, Marta;FERRANTE, DONATELLA;
2017

Abstract

Abstract Why do individuals mentally modify reality (“If it hadn’t rained, we would have won the game”)? According to the dominant view, counterfactuals primarily serve to prepare future performance. In fact, individuals who have just failed a task tend to modify the uncontrollable features of their attempt (“If the game rules were different, I would have won it”), generating counterfactuals that are unlikely to play any preparatory role. By contrast, they generate prefactuals that focus on the controllable features of their ensuing behavior (“If I concentrate more, I will win next game”). Here we test whether this tendency is robust and general. Studies 1a and 1b replicate this tendency and show that it occurs regardless of whether individuals think about their failures or their successes. Study 2 shows that individuals generate relatively few controllable counterfactuals, unless explicitly prompted to do so. These results conflict with the dominant view suggesting that the main function of counterfactuals might not be preparatory.
https://link.springer.com/article/10.3758%2Fs13421-016-0660-5
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11368/2901882
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