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Individual Differences in the Generation of Functional and Dysfunctional Counterfactual Thoughts

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

Counterfactual thoughts are mental simulations of alternative outcomes that are commonly generated when events or situations turn out differently than expected. Upward counterfactual thoughts (thoughts about how a negative situation could have been better) can often have a behaviour regulating function by highlighting ways to correct future behaviour. Downward counterfactual thoughts (thoughts about how the outcome could have been worse) contrast the negative outcome with a much worse outcome and in this way provide a sense of relief which can help reduce negative mood about an outcome. Upward and downward counterfactuals can be functional or dysfunctional depending on the context.
Research on the role of individual differences in counterfactual thinking, and specifically how and when counterfactuals are used in a functional and adaptive manner, is limited. This PhD project will examine how positive and negative individual differences influence the generation of functional and dysfunctional counterfactuals, and the nature of the processes and outcomes involved.

Funding Notes

Self funding or sponsored students only. No University funding.

NB The University has some tuition fee scholarship under competition - application deadline is 23 January 2019 at 5pm

References

Suggested readings:
Epstude, K., & Roese, N. J. (2008). The functional theory of counterfactual thinking. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 12(2), 168.
Sirois, F. M., Monforton, J., & Simpson, M. (2010). “If only I had done better”: Perfectionism and the functionality of counterfactual thinking. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 36, 1675-1692.

How good is research at University of Sheffield in Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 34.45

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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