How We Would Have Done Things Differently

'Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda' -- New Study Sheds Light On How We Would Have Done Things Differently

Science Daily — If you're like most people, you've probably experienced a shoulda-woulda-coulda moment; a time when we lament our missteps, saying that we should have invested in a certain stock, should have become a doctor instead of a lawyer and so on.

Psychologists refer to this process, in which we evaluate how we would do things differently, as "counterfactual thinking" and while it can have a positive spin, more often than not it is a psychological mechanism that causes us to harbor feelings of disappointment and regret.

In order to study counterfactual thinking, researchers are fond of having participants read stories in which the main character makes decisions that will ultimately doom him or her to failure and then ask these same participants how they would have done things differently.
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