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Counterfactual Thinking Negative Event Enhances positive mood May allow for the development of new strategies for future use What is CFT? Thoughts about.

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Presentation on theme: "Counterfactual Thinking Negative Event Enhances positive mood May allow for the development of new strategies for future use What is CFT? Thoughts about."— Presentation transcript:

1 Counterfactual Thinking Negative Event Enhances positive mood May allow for the development of new strategies for future use What is CFT? Thoughts about what might have been; what could I have done different (better) What are its effects?

2 A B Grades Test Score Lowered counterfactual thinking (satisfaction) Upward counterfactual thinking (dissatisfaction) Counterfactual Thinking (cont.) C Gold Medal Silver Medal Bronze Medal From Medvec et al. (1995): Emotional reactions of Olympic athletes were driven by comparisons with the most easily imagined alternative outcome (closest in proximity). Prior expectations had no significant effect on their emotions.

3 Category-based counterfactuals [Proximity of an outcome to some break point or standard of performance]: Gold Silver I almost... Bronze At least I... 4 th Place Expectation-based counterfactuals: Based on own recent performance, recent performance of competitors, predictions (e.g., coaches, media, betting lines) Decision Affect Theory: Able to describe instances in which people feel less pleasure with an objectively better outcome (e.g., Participants won $5 and avoided a large loss, greater pleasure W won $9, but missed an opportunity for an even greater win, les pleasure.

4 Expectations and CFT Study 1: J udge the emotional reactions of athletes in the 2000 Summer Olympics (watch videos); N = 26 Actual finish had an effect on the perceived happiness of athletes Gold medalists (M = 7.9) Silver medalists (M = 6.6) Bronze medalists (M = 6.3) Non-medal winners (M = 4.3) Athletes with lower expectations were happier with their performance Bronze medalists who were not expecting a medal appeared happier than silver medalists expecting the gold Regression analysis: Actual finish and the difference between actual and expected finish were significant predictors

5 Study # 2 [Observers inferences about the happiness of Olympic athletes base on actual and expected finishes] Three criteria: 1)Actual finish 2)Expected finish 3)Athletes beliefs in the expected finish [e.g., participants asked to imagine an Olympic athlete who believes there is an excellent chance of finishing 1st, but they actually finish 2nd and wins a silver medal] Use of 100 (extremely elated) to -100 (extremely disappointed) scale [for Gary] Findings? Gold medalists were extremely elated -- only a slight influence of expectations Silver medalists were elated, unless they expected the gold Bronze medalists were happy, but not when their expectations were higher Bronze medalists who exceeded their expectations happier than silver medalists who fell short of expectations (expecting gold) Estimated utilities of actual finishes reflected Medvec qualitative and categorical distinctions. Psychological differences between gold and silver finishes was greater than the difference between silver and bronze finishes, with the largest difference occurring between the bronze finish and fourth place.

6 Study #3 [Test between expectancy-based counterfactuals and category-based counterfactuals] Practice test with feedback (establishing prior expectations; 90th–100th percentile or 50th–60th percentile) or Practice test without feedback Actual test of verbal ability and placed into categories with break points similar to silver and bronze medal winners Outcomes ($$$) based on actual performance to establish break points [>9oth = $7, 80-90th = $3, 70 th -80 th = $2, Below 70 th = $0] Students randomly assigned to performance feedback conditions of $3 (80th–90th percentile) or $2 (70th–80th percentile) Students rated their emotional reactions and described their thoughts

7 Overall, participants felt better with higher outcomes and lower expectations. Expectations made objectively better outcomes feel subjectively worse Students receiving $2, but expected $0, felt better than those who received $3 while expecting $7 $3 winners were happier than the $2 winners (against the categorical position) Surprise was a significant predictor of emotions (the more pleasantly surprised people felt about their performance, the greater their pleasure) Students who expected to win $7 were more likely than those who believed they would win $0 to make upward counterfactual comparisons Contrary to the category-based processing hypothesis, $2 winners were more likely to make upward counterfactuals than $3 winners For students receiving no feedback, their pleasure was directly related to actual outcomes and not to nearby breakpoints Study #3 Results?

8 Other Issues Role of close calls Silver medalist loses a race by 1/100 second but beats bronze medalist by several seconds (likely to use upward CFT) Silver medalist loses to gold medalist by several seconds but beats bronze medalist by 1/100 sec. (likely to make downward CFT) not make upward CFT unless had expectations for gold medal). Here, a close call can override prior expectations Role of Social Comparisons (I didnt win the gold but I beat my long-time rival – downward CFT) Role of Mixed-Emotions -- experience happiness and sadness simultaneously (e.g., Silver medalist with very low expectations – both upward and downward CFT can occur) Outcome Closeness (closer = more CFT) Time (failing to renewing an insurance policy 3 days or 6 months before a serious illness) Physical distance (pulling a muscle yards before the finish line) Numerical proximity (being the 999 th customer when # 1000 gets a prize)

9 Counterfactual Thinking (cont.) Inaction Inertia 75% Off Sale Plan or think about buying an item but dont do so 25% Off Sale Unlikely to buy the stock now even though it may still be a good purchase Stock is selling for $5.00/share Plan or think about buying the stock but dont do so Stock rises to $10.00/share Unlikely to buy the item now even though it may still be a good deal

10 Leading Questions Previous Research (similar issues) Harris (1973): How tall was the basketball layer? How short was the basketball player? How long was the movie? How short was the movie? 130 min. 100 min.

11 Loftus (unpublished studies) Headache Products How many other products have you tried: 1, 2, 3 ? How many other products have you tried: 1, 5, 10 ? Avg. 3.3 Avg. 5.2 Do you get headaches frequently, and, if so, how often? Do you get headaches occasionally, and, if so, how often? 2.2/week 0.7/week

12 Recently Witnessed Events (Loftus, 1974; Loftus & Zanni, 1975) Film depicting multiple car accident --- Did you see a... versus Did you see the... More likely to report seeing something Loftus & Palmer (1974): Film of car accidents: How fast were the cars going when they collided, bumped, contacted, hit? How fast were the cars going when they smashed? Higher estimate of speed (41 mph vs. 35 in hit condition) 2x more likely to report presence of glass at scene

13 Question Wording and Answers to Following Questions [Role of True and False Presuppositions] Experiment 1 : Accident Film: Car ran stop sign, turns right into traffic, other cars stop to avoid it and 5-car collision occurs Questions (randomly given to one of 2 groups): 1)How fast was Car A (ran stop sign car) going when it ran the stop sign? 2)How fast was car A going when it turned right? Strengthen hypothesis Construction hypothesis Both groups – Did you see a stop sign for Car A? Stop sign group = 75% Right turn group = 35% Connection to Smashed condition earlier but info. was true, additional data. If false, info. is accepted, then strengthening cannot be the reason for findings

14 Experiment 2 Student Revolution film consisting of 8 demonstrators Randomly assigned to one of the two conditions below --- Yes or No answer right away A)Was the leader of the four demonstrators who entered the classroom a male? B)Was the leader of the twelve demonstrators who entered the classroom a male? >>>Evidence that a false numerical presupposition can affect answers by a witness 6.4 a week later 8.8 a week later

15 Experiment 3 [False presupposition of objects] Accident film --- speed of a white sports car A)How fast was the white sports car going when it passed the barn while traveling along the country road? versus B) How fast was the white sports car going while traveling along the country road? One week later: Did you see a barn ? [No barn existed] 17.5% reported seeing a barn 2.7% reported seeing a barn

16 Experiment 4 [Impact of just asking a question about a nonexistent object] Accident film: Car collides with a baby carriage pushed by a man Conditions : 1)Direct version : Asked about items not in the film (e.g., Did you see a school bus in the film) 2)False Presupposition version : Did you see the children getting on the school bus? 3) Control : Only filler questions asked

17 Experiment #4 Findings


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