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Downward Counterfactual Thinking 2

By  and Katherine WhiteDarrin R. Lehman and Katherine White


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 predominates. The current research spotlights a set of factors that increase the role of self-enhancement in counterfactual thinking. Threatening experiences such as chronic illness (Study 1) and the terrorist attacks of 9-11 (Study 2) were associated with more downward than upward counterfactuals. In Study 3, among those more motivated to self-enhance, a manipulation of event severity led to the generation of more downward than upward counterfactuals. Cultural background (Studies 3, 4, & 5), manipulated motives (Study 4), and the opportunity for self-affirmation (Study 5) also were related to the self-enhancing function of counterfactual thoughts. Downward Counterfactual Thinking 3 We have, without any doubt, the best Police Department, the best Fire Department, the best police officers, the best fire officers, the best emergency workers of any place in the whole world. And, although today's tragedy is going to be enormous, and there's no way to minimize it, if it weren't for them, this tragedy would be far worse…without our Police Department, our Fire Department, our EMS, and the kinds of people we have, many of whom lost their lives, there would be doubl

Topics: counterfactual thinking, self-enhancement, self-motives, coping
Year: 2011
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