Counterfactual reasoning Norm theory (Kahneman & Miller, 1986) Daniel Kahneman Dale Miller
Who blames himself more? (A) Mr Brown left his office at a usual hour. This time he did not have to collect his children from the kindergarten, so he decided to take a more interesting road home. He drove along the sea coast with beautiful sites, much more beautiful than if he took his usual road through the downtown area. Turning into one of the small streets he suddenly notices a truck that headed at him. The driver was obviously drunk. He did not manage to break. Mr Brown was taken to hospital with a heavy spine injury.
Who blames himself more? (B) Mr Brown left his office at usual time. He promised his wife that on his way back he will collect children from the kindergarten, therefore he drove his usual road home, through the downtown. Sometime he liked to take another road, along the sea-side where sites are more beautiful but this time he did not make the exception Turning into one of the small streets he suddenly notices a truck that headed at him. The driver was obviously drunk. He did not manage to break. Mr Brown was taken to hospital with a heavy spine injury.
Who is more angry ? Mr White and Mr Green were going abroad. They were taking different planes but both planes were leaving at exactly the same time. Therefore they took one taxi to the airport. Unfortunately at that time of the day the traffic was heavy and they arrived at the airport 30 minutes after the planned departure of their planes. Mr White learned that his plane left according to the schedule. Mr Green learned that his plane was late and left only five minutes ago.
Who regrets more his decision? Mr Cohen has shares in the company A. During the lasy year he frequently considered moving his shares to the company B, but finally decided to stay with A. Recently he learned that if he decided to move his shares, he would gain 3,000 PLN. Mr Rosenberg also had shares in the company A but after long consideration decided to move them to company D. Recently he learned that if he stayed in the company A, he would gain 3,000 PLN.
„Normal” vs. „abnormal” states Norm theory by Kahneman & Miller Norm = something that “cannot be different” Abnormal event = something that “can be different”, that can be „undone” The easier it is to imagine an alternative state of things the more abnormal is the event the stronger emotional reaction Reaction to normal states weaker than to abnormal states
Alternative possibilities and emotional amplitude The more available alternative to an action the stronger emotional reaction to the consequences of the action Negative emotions –Arriving 5 minutes late at the airport - more upsetting than arriving 30 minutes late Positive emotions –Joy when winning in a lotto higher if the coupon was filled in the last minute than a month ago –K.H. Teigen: the most lucky are those who can easily imagine the worst possible scenario
It could be different (worse... better....) Why are brown medal winners more happy than silver medal winners?
Factors determining perceived normality/abnormality of actions Exception vs. Routine Typical vs. Atypical situations Actions vs. Inactions Forced vs. Free choice
Exception vs. routine Traffic accidents in exceptional situations more grief than in routine situations Victims robbed in exceptional situations offered more financial justifications than victims robbed in routine situations
Actions vs. inactions Human being as a risk averse creature Omission bias – consequences of actions more weighted than consequences of inaction –It is easier to undo action than inaction Status quo bias – consequences of change more weighted than consequences of sticking to the old –It is easier to undo change than no change ”win-stay-lose-shift” strategy – change strategy only when the outcomes are negative –Negative outcomes easier to undo than positive outcomes
Omissions vs. commissions It is easier to imagine refraining from action than taking an action (omission bias - J.Baron) More regret when negative consequences follow an action than inaction More joy when positive consequences follow an action than inaction (Landman) More responsibility attributed for consequences of actions than inactions (e.g., higher penalty) more guilt experienced when harm comes from action than inaction
Counterfactual thinking and content of emotions Some emotions - product of counterfactual thinking –grief/joy –Regret –luck/bad luck –pride/shame –envy/jealousy –gratitude
Morality vs competence Morality: consequences of actions weighted more than consequences of inactions Competence: consequences of inaction weighted more than consequences of actions
Morality vs. competence Actor’s perspective Observer’s perspective After: I. Trzepałka (2001)
Time perspective Short time perspective – we regret more what we have done (sin of commission) In long time perspective – we regret more what we have not done (sin of omission)
Counterfactual reasoning as causal reasoning Functions of counterfactuals –Emotional –Cognitive Types of counterfactuals –According to the direction of comparisons –According to the structure of counterfactuals
upward downward additive subtractive If X it would be better If Y it would be worse If not-Z It would be better If not-U It would be worse Types of counterfactuals
Outcome valence and controllability and structure of counterfactuals (upward vs. downward) After: Roese, 1996
Outcome valence and the structure of counterfactuals (additive vs subtractive) After: Roese, 1996
Direction of comparisons and type of outcomes Replicable outcomes upward comparisons (with somebody better) better performance One-time outcomes downward comparisons (with somebody worse) feeling better
Activation of counterfactual reasoning After negative outcomes rather than after positive (If only....) Negative outcomes additive counterfactuals (I only I would have done X) Positive outcomes subtractive counterfactuals (if I would not have done Y)
Affect-driven process of counterfactual thinking Negative outcome Negative affect Counterfactual activation Negative affect Causal reasoning Inhibition Expectations intentions Source: Neal J. Roese & James M. Olson (1997)
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