Counterfactual thinking is the “thinking focus on how the past might have been, or the present could be, different.” This is the definition according to http://psychology.iresearchnet.com/social-psychology/social-cognition/counterfactual-thinking/, which I retrieved from the website on 10th April 2018. Counterfactual thoughts means that they are contrary to the facts. These thoughts usually result from the occurrences of the negative events that usually block the goals and desires of an individual. They, therefore, have negative impacts on the emotions as well as beliefs and behaviours of the individual experiencing these thoughts such as regret. One primary characteristic of counterfactual .thinking is that it focuses on ways that the present could have been different.
One of my experience with negative counterfactual thinking was back when I was aged fifteen years when I attended my friend’s birthday party. Ever since I was young, I have always had this careless attitude and believed that my mess after eating was my mom’s work to clean up. Therefore, I spent less time caring for my responsibilities in cleaning up and less concentration on the careful eating of food.
So, at the party, due to my learned behaviour of eating carelessly, I ended up spilling food and juice on my favourite shirt. As the time passed and others people started socialising, I felt out of place because I could talk to guys with my messed up shirt on. I, therefore, began to imagine the situation if only I was careful when eating and therefore not spilling food and juice on my shirt. This fits the counterfactual thinking because I mentally relived the moments where my shirt was still clean, and I could interact with people without feeling ashamed.
However, positive contractual thinking occurred to me when I was in high school where I had performed poorly in my exams. I realised that my results were in direct relation to my hard work in my studies. Therefore, I tried putting more efforts into my studies the following semester, and I eventually passed exams in that semester. In the subsequent semesters, I applied the same thinking and my grades improved with more significant margins. Counterfactual thinking helped me realise that there is a correlation between working hard and the final grade I get in return. This is an example of counterfactual thinking because it helped me imagine my results, if only I work hard, bringing alternatives to my past grades and hard work.
Psychology. PSYCHOLOGY RESEARCH AND REFERENCE. 2008. Website. 10 April 2018.