If only I hadn't smoked: The impact of counterfactual thinking on a smoking-related behavior
Article first published online: 10 OCT 2003
Copyright © 2003 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Psychology & Marketing
Special Issue: “If Only I Hadn't Smoked”
Volume 20, Issue 11, pages 955–976, November 2003
How to Cite
Page, C. M. and Colby, P. M. (2003), If only I hadn't smoked: The impact of counterfactual thinking on a smoking-related behavior. Psychol. Mark., 20: 955–976. doi: 10.1002/mar.10104
- Issue published online: 10 OCT 2003
- Article first published online: 10 OCT 2003
The role of counterfactual thinking as an effective antismoking communications strategy is examined. Specifically, this study investigates how various types of counterfactual thoughts, generated in response to a detrimental smoking scenario, impact individuals' affective evaluations of the scenario, as well as their willingness to participate in a smoking-related behavioral test, a lung-capacity test. This is tested in three experiments, which differ in the timing of gathering individuals' willingness to participate in the lung-capacity test. Experiment 1 collected individuals' willingness to participate in the test shortly after the counterfactual task, whereas Experiments 2 and 3 made this assessment 2 and 7 days following the counterfactual task (respectively). The results of all three experiments indicated that although upward counterfactuals had a negative impact on individuals' affective evaluations of the scenario, they had no effect on participants' willingness to schedule a lung- capacity test. Alternatively, additive counterfactuals did have a significant impact on individuals' preparative actions, despite having no influence on their affective evaluations. This effect, however, decreased with time. By demonstrating that counterfactual thinking may significantly influence smoking-related behaviors, this study's findings contribute to and extend prior counterfactual and antismoking research. © 2003 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.