The Counterfactual Mind-Set: A Decade of Research

Authored by: Elaine M. Wong , Adam D. Galinsky , Laura J. Kray

Handbook of Imagination and Mental Simulation

Print publication date:  December  2008
Online publication date:  September  2012

Print ISBN: 9781841698878
eBook ISBN: 9780203809846
Adobe ISBN: 9781136678103


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Imagine you are at a concert of one of your favorite bands. Seating is on a first come, first serve basis. At the concert, the announcer reveals that a trip to Hawaii will be given to a lucky fan, and that the winner will be determined by the seat number currently occupied. Now imagine you see a person move seats because his view of the stage is partially obstructed Shortly after they change seats, the winning seat number is announced It turns out that the winning seat was the seat from which that person had just moved. If you are like the hundreds of individuals who have participated in our experiments using this scenario, you would instantly and spontaneously conjure up thoughts such as, “If only he had not moved, he would have won,” and empathically appreciate his poignant sense of disappointment and regret (Kahneman & Miller, 1986).

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