Send to

Choose Destination
Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2005 Oct;31(10):1413-24.

Looking on the bright side: downward counterfactual thinking in response to negative life events.

Author information

Haskayne School of Business, University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.


Past research has found that downward counterfactual thoughts are rarely generated in response to negative life events. However, the authors suggest that under conditions in which self-enhancement motives are prominent, downward counterfactuals will be more frequent than upward counterfactuals. When motives were explicitly manipulated (Study 1), people generated more downward counterfactuals in the self-enhancement than in the self-improvement and control conditions. In Study 2, among those chronically more motivated to self-enhance (i.e., European Canadians), a manipulation of event severity led to the generation of more downward than upward counterfactuals. This finding was mediated by the desire for self-enhancement. In Study 3, cultural background and the opportunity for self-affirmation were related to the generation of downward counterfactuals in expected ways. Implications of these findings are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Atypon
Loading ...
Support Center