What is it about?

White Americans often think about how negative outcomes could have turned out better. We find that Arabs in the UAE endorse such upward counterfactual thoughts less than white Americans. However, this difference is greater for significant negative events than minor hassles, and does not occur for spontaneous thoughts or reports of emotions. These cultural differences in counterfactual thought are tied to different beliefs about the origin of control.

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Why is it important?

This work highlights both affective and cognitive processes in a group which has been historically underrepresented. Additionally, it provides interesting insights into how, when, or why upward counterfactual thinking may be avoided, which is important to our understanding of when and how these thoughts may be functional in daily life.

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: “What was meant to be” versus “what might have been”: Effects of culture and control on counterfactual thinking., Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, January 2022, American Psychological Association (APA), DOI: 10.1037/pspa0000295.
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