Project

Things Could have Been Worse: The Counterfactual Nature of Gratitude

Goal: The aim of my research is to investigate the relationship between counterfactual thinking and state and trait gratitude, while also examining the potential mediating effects of other factors known to be associated with counterfactual thinking and gratitude such as happiness, satisfaction with life, and blame.

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Project log

Nuala Walsh
added a research item
Title: Things Could Have Been Worse: The Counterfactual Nature of Gratitude. This research investigates what role different types of counterfactual thinking play in gratitude. Experiment 1 investigates if levels of gratitude are associated with the generation of both upward counterfactuals (things could have been better) and downward counterfactuals (things could have been worse) following the recollection of a negative life event. Experiment 2 further examines this relationship using the same directional elements of counterfactual thinking but using a more detailed conceptualisation of gratitude. The findings are discussed in the context of previous research on counterfactual thinking and affect.
Suzanne M Egan
added a research item
Counterfactual thinking, which contrasts a real event with a hypothetical scenario, is a fundamental characteristic of healthy social, emotional and cognitive functioning, and frequently triggers affective reactions. The aim of this research is to investigate what role, if any, different types of counterfac-tual thinking play in gratitude. Experiment 1 investigates if levels of gratitude are associated with the generation of both upward counterfactuals (things could have been better) and downward counterfactuals (things could have been worse) following the recollection of a negative life event. Results indicate that thoughts of how much worse things could have been and thinking about a how the individual could have done more to produce a better outcome, are both significantly associated with gratitude. In Experiment 2 we further examine this relationship using the same directional elements of counterfactual thinking but using a more detailed conceptualization of gratitude. Similar to Experiment 1, the findings indicate that aspects of counterfactuals relating to thoughts about how things could have been worse, better, or better if someone else had acted differently are significantly associated with gratitude. These findings are discussed in the context of previous research on counterfactual thinking and affect. The implications for the functional theory of counterfactual thought are considered.
Nuala Walsh
added a project goal
The aim of my research is to investigate the relationship between counterfactual thinking and state and trait gratitude, while also examining the potential mediating effects of other factors known to be associated with counterfactual thinking and gratitude such as happiness, satisfaction with life, and blame.