It's Hard to Imagine: Mental Simulation, Metacognitive Experiences, and the Success of Debiasing

Authored by: Lawrence J. Sanna , Norbert Schwarz , Lindsay A. Kennedy

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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Mental simulation plays a critical role in many life domains. The chapters in this volume give testament to this importance, from thinking about possible futures (e.g., Dunn, Forrin, & Ashton-James, Chapter 22; Oyserman & James, Chapter 25) to revisiting past events (e.g., Bernstein, Godfrey, & Loftus, Chapter 6; Lynn, Barnes, & Matthews, Chapter 7), and from taking others' perspectives (e.g., Epley & Caruso, Chapter 20; Saxe, Chapter 17) to planning one's own course of action (e.g., Carroll & Shepperd, Chapter 28; Zeelenberg & Pieters, Chapter 27) or undoing the outcomes of past actions (e.g., Byrne & Girotto, Chapter 10; Markman, Karadogan, Lindberg, & Zell, Chapter 12) and so on. Throughout, mental simulation can profoundly influence how people think and feel about an issue, with important consequences for motivation and behavior. Not surprisingly, psychologists have attempted to harness the power of mental simulation in various ways, often with considerable success. For example, helping people to see things from another's perspective can increase empathy (e.g., Batson, Chapter 18), having people imagine desirable or undesirable aspects of possible futures can facilitate behavior change (e.g., Oettingen & Kappes, Chapter 26), and imagining circumstances conducive to goal enactment can increase the likelihood of actual enactment later (e.g., Faude, Wuerz, & Gollwitzer, Chapter 5).

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