The role of causal uncertainty in counterfactual generation and regret

Norman, David (2011). The role of causal uncertainty in counterfactual generation and regret Honours Thesis, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland.

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Author Norman, David
Thesis Title The role of causal uncertainty in counterfactual generation and regret
School, Centre or Institute School of Psychology
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2011-10-12
Thesis type Honours Thesis
Supervisor Dr Stephanie Tobin
Total pages 88
Language eng
Subjects 1701 Psychology
Abstract/Summary Counterfactual thinking is a process in which one imagines alternative actions or events that lead to alternative outcomes. However, little research has examined the role of causal uncertainty, the confidence one has in one's ability to understand causal relations, in this process. The current study was conducted to determine how causal uncertainty affects the generation of counterfactuals and the experience of the counterfactual emotion, regret. As previous research has shown that causal uncertainty leads to increased effortful processing in a bid to better understand causal relations, it was hypothesised that higher causal uncertainty would result in higher counterfactual generation. It was also hypothesised that higher causal uncertainty would ultimately mitigate feelings of regret, due to persistent uncertainty in one‟s ability to understand causal relations, and to the mediating role of uncertainty in the counterfactuals themselves. Eighty students from the University of Queensland were randomly assigned to either an upward (better outcome) or downward (worse outcome) counterfactual condition, and were requested to read three scenarios. Results did not support the prediction that increasing causal uncertainty is associated with decreasing regret, nor that counterfactual certainty was a mediator of this relationship. Discussion of implications and limitations highlighted a number of theoretical and methodological considerations that would be of benefit for future research in the counterfactual and causal uncertainty research domains.
Keyword Casual uncertainty
Counterfactual generation and regret

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Created: Fri, 22 Jun 2012, 15:01:54 EST by Mrs Ann Lee on behalf of School of Psychology