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Individual Differences in the Generation of Functional and Dysfunctional Counterfactual Thoughts

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  • Full or part time
    Dr F Sirois
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK 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

This is one of many projects in competition for the current funding opportunities available within the Department of Psychology. Please see here for full details: http://www.sheffield.ac.uk/psychology/prospectivepg/funding
Overseas students are welcome to apply for funding but must be able to demonstrate that they can fund the difference in the tuition fees.
Requirements: We ask for a minimum of a first class or high upper second-class undergraduate honours degree and a distinction or high merit at Masters level in psychology or a related discipline.

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.

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