Reading vs. Doing Produces Different Forms of Thinking
In May, we reported on how the "woulda" and "shoulda dones" in life affect decision-making. Now, a new series of experiments by Vittorio Girotto of the University IUAV of Venice, Italy and his colleagues demonstrates how this type of thinking differs between people who actually experience a given predicament and those who merely hear or read about it and imagine how things might have turned out better.
The experiment set up by Girotto and his colleagues used the solution of a complex math problem in a set amount of time as its basis. It was previously determined that it would be almost impossible to solve the problem in the time given in the experiment. Participants were separated into two groups: 'actors', who had to work through the math problem and experience the failed outcome and 'readers', whose task it was to read about the experience of the actors. Both groups then thought about what they would have done differently to finish the math problem in the allotted time.
The results run counter previous theories of counterfactual thinking. It was assumed that people who read a story construct the same counterfactuals, or "shoulda dones," as people who actually experienced the events. Moreover, it was believed that actors tend to avoid self-blame at all costs when thinking of alternatives. Instead, the actor-reader differences emerged even in conditions in which actors' decisions were unblameworthy. As the researchers write, "Actors and readers produce different counterfactuals because they rely on different information, not because they have different motivations."
Read more: New Study Sheds Light on How We Would Have Done Things Differently
Posted In: Cognitive Psychology |
Posted by FindCounseling.com Staff on July 13, 2007 at 08:51 AM | Permalink
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