This study was facilitated by a research grant from the Department of Psychology, Monash University. I thank several anonymous reviewers of earlier drafts of the article for their helpful comments, and Paul Phelps, David MMahon, and Naomi Griffin for assistance with the study.
Was It My Fault? Effects of Counterfactual Mutation Focus and Self-Presentation Strategy1
Article first published online: 31 JUL 2006
Journal of Applied Social Psychology
Volume 31, Issue 5, pages 1076–1095, May 2001
How to Cite
Fraser, C. O. (2001), Was It My Fault? Effects of Counterfactual Mutation Focus and Self-Presentation Strategy. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 31: 1076–1095. doi: 10.1111/j.1559-1816.2001.tb02663.x
- Issue published online: 31 JUL 2006
- Article first published online: 31 JUL 2006
A recent perspective proposes that counterfactual thinking mutates controllable events that could have prevented a specific outcome, and so provides knowledge that can be used to prevent similar outcomes in the future. This implies that counterfactual thinking does not necessarily influence causal reasoning, although they may be associated in some circumstances. Results of 2 studies reported here show that, for serious outcomes where actions of the self are antecedents and different self-actions might have prevented the outcome, there was an associated increase in self-blame. Findings from these studies also suggest that whether self-mutations are reflected in public expressions of blame will depend on whether the context favors self-serving self-presentation strategies, or mitigating strategies incorporating the face concerns of others.