Outcome Controllability and Counterfactual Thinking

@article{Roese1995OutcomeCA,
  title={Outcome Controllability and Counterfactual Thinking},
  author={Neal J. Roese and James M. Olson},
  journal={Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin},
  year={1995},
  volume={21},
  pages={620 - 628}
}
The impact of outcome controllability on the direction of counterfactual thoughts (reconstructions of past outcomes based on "might have been"alternatives) was examined in two laboratory experiments. Counterfactual direction reflects the distinction between upward counterfactuals (focusing on how things could have been better) and downward counterfactuals (focusing on how things could have been worse). Previous research has shown that upward counterfactuals are more frequent after failure, even… 
The Functional Basis of Counterfactual Thinking
Counterfactual thoughts (“might-have-been” reconstructions of past outcomes) may serve an affective function (feeling better) and a preparative function (future improvement). Three studies showed
Counterfactual thinking and ascriptions of cause and preventability.
TLDR
Research suggests that counterfactuals and preventability ascriptions play an important role in determining the perceived cause of a target outcome, but results indicate that the primary criterion used to recruit causal ascriptions (covariation) differs from that used to recruited counterfactUALs (controllability).
Counterfactual thinking and ascriptions of cause and preventability.
Research suggests that counterfactuals (i.e., thoughts of how things might have been different) play an important role in determining the perceived cause of a target outcome. Results from 3 scenario
Gaining Control through Counterfactual Thinking
The control-gaining influence of counterfactual thought was examined in a month-long study of real-life exam performances. Participants were contacted immediately after receiving a test grade, the
Self-Efficacy and Counterfactual Thinking: Up a Creek with and without a Paddle
Two studies examined self-efficacy as a moderator of the consequences of upward and downward counterfactual thinking. In both studies, self-efficacy was manipulated by false feedback after performing
Downward Counterfactual Thinking 1 Running Head : DOWNWARD COUNTERFACTUAL THINKING Looking on the Bright Side : Downward Counterfactual Thinking in Response to Stressful Life Events
Although the literature has identified both a self-enhancement and a self-improvement function of counterfactual thinking, most evidence points to situations in which the self-improvement function
Looking on the Bright Side: Downward Counterfactual Thinking in Response to Negative Life Events
TLDR
The authors suggest that under conditions in which self-enhancement motives are prominent, downward counterfactuals will be more frequent than upward counterfactUALs.
Counterfactual thinking.
  • N. Roese
  • Psychology
    Psychological bulletin
  • 1997
TLDR
The author reviews research in support of the assertions that (a) counterfactual thinking is activated automatically in response to negative affect, (b) the content ofcounterfactuals targets particularly likely causes of misfortune, (c) counter Factuals produce negative affective consequences through a contrast-effect mechanism and positive inferential consequencesthrough a causal-inference mechanism, and (d) the net effect of counterfactUAL thinking is beneficial.
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References

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Counterfactual thoughts (“might-have-been” reconstructions of past outcomes) may serve an affective function (feeling better) and a preparative function (future improvement). Three studies showed
Counterfactual thinking: From what might have been to what may be.
Consideration of counterfactual alternatives to negative outcomes, particularly when the counterfactuals change those outcomes, has repeatedly been shown to intensify regret and judgments of blame.
The Structure of Counterfactual Thought
The structure of counterfactual thoughts (evaluations of past outcomes based on 'might have been" alternatives) was investigated. Subjects read stories describing a student preparing for an exam,
The Role of Counterfactual Thinking in Judgments of Affect
The role of counterfactuals in judgments of affective reactions to outcomes was examined. Subjects read about individuals who experienced gains or losses as a result of either deciding to take action
Counterfactual Thinking and Victim Compensation
Norm theory (Kahneman & Miller, 1986) identifies factors that determine the ease with which alternatives to reality can be imagined or constructed. One assumption of norm theory is that the greater
The Mental Simulation of Better and Worse Possible Worlds
Counterfactual thinking involves the imagination of non-factual alternatives to reality. We investigated the spontaneous generation of both upward counterfactuals, which improve on reality, and
A Tale of Two Curries: Counterfactual Thinking and Accident-Related Judgments
The present research investigated the effects of counterfactual thinking on subjects' accident-related judgments. It was predicted that the availability of counterfactual alternatives for an accident
The Impact of Perceived Control on the Imagination of Better and Worse Possible Worlds
Effects of perceived control and close alternative outcomes on counterfactual generation were examined. Subjects played a computer-simulated "wheel of fortune"game along with another player (a
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