what is Counterfactual Thinking?

Counterfactual Thinking revolves around how the past may have been, or how the present could be, unique. These considerations are typically set off by adverse thoughts that block one’s objectives and goals. Counterfactual thinking has an assortment of impacts on feelings, convictions, and behaviour with regret being the most widely recognized feeling.

In a real sense, Counterfactual means a contradiction to current realities. Now and then, counterfactuals spin around how the present could be distinctive (“I could be the topper of the class only if I had studied for my test”). Nonetheless, counterfactual contemplations of what might have happened had some detail, activity, or result been distinctive before. At whatever point we say “if by some stroke of good luck” or “nearly,” or use words like “could,” “would,” or “ought to,” we might be communicating a counterfactual idea. Counterfactuals are also used as an argument like

“What if the 26/11 terrorists had been spotted and arrested by the police before spreading the terrorism?”

Counterfactuals are those roads that are never taken. This thinking usually develops from the age of 6 to 12. Sometimes counterfactual thoughts are excruciating and weakening, like when an individual thinks, after an unfortunate mishap, about how the person ought to have advised their closest companion to wear a safety belt. In such cases, counterfactual thinking puts individuals through self-blaming, which may make the agony of a terrible circumstance more dreadful.

Less is More: Why Bronze Medalists are Happier as compared to Silver Medalists?

Researchers examining ‘counterfactual thinking’ studied that the information on ‘almost winning a Gold Medal’ destroyed the moment for a silver medalist, while the bronze champ was satisfied by the idea: ‘I at least won an award.’ To the silver medalist, the most distinctive counterfactual contemplations are frequently centred on almost winning the gold. Runner-up is just one stage away from the esteemed gold medal and the entirety of its social and monetary prizes.

Hence, whatever happiness the silver medalist might feel is often tempered by excruciating thoughts of what may have been had she just stretched her step, changed her breathing, arched her foot, etc. For the bronze medalist, interestingly, the most convincing counterfactual option is frequently coming in the fourth spot and being in the showers rather than on the medal stand.”

Silver Medal or Bronze
Attributes of Counterfactual Thinking

There are three attributes of counterfactual thinking. Initially, at a point when individuals feel awful about an adverse result, they contemplate how that result might have been avoided. Secondly, counterfactual thoughts are about “closely missed” or an occasion that was almost about to happen. When something nearly occurs, it appears to invite hypotheses about other options.

For instance, missing a plane by 2 minutes is probably going to start more considerations on how one may have gotten the plane when contrasted with missing a plane by two hours. Thirdly, individuals likewise think “If by some stroke of good luck” terms when they are amazed by a result, as when an unforeseen outcome conflicts with what the individual had accepted would occur, in this manner drawing consideration and causing reflection regarding why the results happened.

There are valid justifications for why negative sentiments and close-to-misses trigger counterfactuals. In these circumstances, counterfactual thinking can be valuable for directing one’s behaviour in the future. At the point when individuals feel awful about something, this regularly reveals to them the circumstance needs consideration. In most situations, counterfactuals incorporate data that makes it simpler for individuals to handle an issue making them more ready later on. For instance, thinking “If only I had practised harder” after losing a football match helps a person to concentrate on a match to perform better in the future. Also, focusing on close misses contrary to far misses is probably going to prompt accomplishment in the future because a little change in behaviour ought to be powerful.

Various Sorts of Counterfactuals And How They Help Us?

Whatever sort of counterfactual thoughts our brain gets engaged in, they are not necessarily illogical or bad. Firstly we have to differentiate between its major two types i.e. “Upward and Downward” to acknowledge them in a better way.

Upward Counterfactuals include pondering how the circumstance might have been something better. For example, an upward counterfactual of a silver medalist could be pondering what might have occurred if I had practised more for my game or if I had given my best shot.

Downward counterfactuals can be unbelievably helpful, particularly to relieve ourselves internally. In understanding that the circumstance might have been more regrettable, we discover alleviation in realizing that we evaded a more negative outcome. For example, a bronze medalist counterfactual would be like if I had not won this medal.

“Generally, counterfactual thinking is a typical mental process that is unpreventable and spontaneous. It can improve our choices and our state of mind, yet additionally, increment our vulnerability to predisposition.”

Here are some key elements related to counterfactual thinking:
1) Distinct Directions have Distinct Outcomes:

Downward counterfactual thinking (what might have been more regrettable) assists us with optimism. Conversely, upward counterfactual thinking (what might have been better) might be more compelling in changing future behaviour.

2) How we feel relies upon whether the doorway is “opened” or “shut”:

One of the best clarifications for whether we utilize counterfactual thinking to feel much improved or to change our behaviour relies upon the accessibility of opportunity.

3) With extraordinary power comes incredible obligation:

While a valuable process, too little or an excessive amount of counterfactual thinking can prompt melancholy or tension and can impact how we see the individuals who spread lies.

Counterfactual Thinking urges our minds to wander where they in any case would not have gone.

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