Counterfactual thinking and locus of control

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Eck, James C.
Kite, Mary E.
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Thesis (M.A.)
Department of Psychological Science
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Counterfactual thinking is the tendency to view events that can easily be imagined otherwise as events that ought not to have been (Miller & Turnbull, 1990). Thirty-six male and sixty-five female subjects from introductory psychology courses completed a counterfactual thinking questionnaire and two personality measures assessing locus of control (Rotter Locus of Control Scale) and self-esteem (Texas Social Behavior Inventory). Results supported the hypothesis that people are more likely to generate counterfactual thoughts when their actions are perceived as easily mutable or when an event is easily imagined otherwise. Results also indicated that women were more likely to mutate events than were men. Finally, participants with high self-esteem were more likely to mutate events than were participants with low self-esteem. Results provided no evidence for a relationship between counterfactual thinking and locus of control. Factors that might have reduced the impact of the individual difference variables are considered.