The making of might-have-beens: effects of free will belief on counterfactual thinking

Alquist, Jessica L., Ainsworth, Sarah E., Baumeister, Roy F., Daly, Michael and Stillman, Tyler F. (2015) The making of might-have-beens: effects of free will belief on counterfactual thinking. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 41 2: 268-283. doi:10.1177/0146167214563673


Author Alquist, Jessica L.
Ainsworth, Sarah E.
Baumeister, Roy F.
Daly, Michael
Stillman, Tyler F.
Title The making of might-have-beens: effects of free will belief on counterfactual thinking
Journal name Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1552-7433
0146-1672
Publication date 2015-02-01
Year available 2014
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1177/0146167214563673
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 41
Issue 2
Start page 268
End page 283
Total pages 16
Place of publication Thousand Oaks, CA, United States
Publisher Sage Publications
Language eng
Abstract Counterfactual thoughts are based on the assumption that one situation could result in multiple possible outcomes. This assumption underlies most theories of free will and contradicts deterministic views that there is only one possible outcome of any situation. Three studies tested the hypothesis that stronger belief in free will would lead to more counterfactual thinking. Experimental manipulations (Studies 1-2) and a measure (Studies 3-4) of belief in free will were linked to increased counterfactual thinking in response to autobiographical (Studies 1, 3, and 4) and hypothetical (Study 2) events. Belief in free will also predicted the kind of counterfactuals generated. Belief in free will was associated with an increase in the generation of self and upward counterfactuals, which have been shown to be particularly useful for learning. These findings fit the view that belief in free will is promoted by societies because it facilitates learning and culturally valued change.
Keyword Beliefs
Counterfactual thinking
Free will
Learning
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Non-UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collection: School of Psychology Publications
 
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