Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Title: The effect of controllability and causality on counterfactual thinking
Authors: Frosch, Caren A.
Egan, Suzanne M.
Hancock, Emily N.
First Published: 6-Nov-2014
Publisher: Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Citation: Thinking and Reasoning, 2015, 21 (3), pp. 317-340
Abstract: Previous research on counterfactual thoughts about prevention suggests that people tend to focus on enabling rather than causing events and controllable rather than uncontrollable events. Two experiments explore whether counterfactual thinking about enablers is distinct from counterfactual thinking about controllable events. We presented participants with scenarios in which a cause and an enabler contributed to a negative outcome. We systematically manipulated the controllability of the cause and the enabler and asked participants to generate counterfactuals. The results indicate that when only the cause or the enabler is controllable participants undid the controllable event more often. However, when the cause and enabler are matched in controllability participants undid the enabler slightly more often. The findings are discussed in the context of the mental model, functional and judgement dissociation theories as well as previous research on counterfactual thinking. The importance of controllability and possible reasons for the special role of enablers are considered.
DOI Link: 10.1080/13546783.2014.976268
ISSN: 1354-6783
eISSN: 1464-0708
Version: Post-print
Status: Peer-reviewed
Type: Journal Article
Rights: Copyright © 2015, Taylor & Francis (Routledge). Deposited with reference to the publisher’s open access archiving policy. The version of the archived here is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives License ( ), which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.
Appears in Collections:Published Articles, School of Psychology

Files in This Item:
File Description SizeFormat 
Frosch_Egan__Hancock_TR_AuthorCopy.pdfPost-review (final submitted)240.87 kBAdobe PDFView/Open

Items in LRA are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.