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About us Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences Psychology Research Units Social Psychology

A functional approach to counterfactual thoughts

Social Psychology

Mental simulations about how events in the past could have turned out differently are termed counterfactuals. This project focuses on their functional qualities in terms of affective and behavioral regulation. The key aim is to integrate findings from cognitive and social psychology in order to derive refined theoretical predictions, which can be tested in basic and applied settings.

Sub projects

  • Counterfactuals and their role for the well-being of HIV+ individuals

Researchers and partners

Behavioural and Social Sciences, Psychology
Partners outside of the University of Groningen
  • Neal J. Roese (Northwestern University)


Courses connected to this project
  • Social Cognition and Affect (PSB3E-SP04)
Selection of BA and MA student projects
  • The link between counterfactuals and procrastination
  • Perceptions of control and the well-being of HIV+ individuals


  • Epstude, K., & Jonas, K. J. (2015). Regret and counterfactual thinking in the face of inevitability: The case of HIV positive men. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 6, 157-163.
  • Epstude, K., & Roese, N.J. (2008). The functional theory of counterfactual thinking. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 12, 168-192.
  • Epstude, K., Scholl, A., & Roese, N.J. (2016). Prefactual thoughts: Mental simulations about what might happen. Review of General Psychology, 20, 48-56.
  • Roese, N. J., & Epstude, K. (in press). The Functional Theory of Counterfactual Thinking:New Evidence, New Challenges, New Insights. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology.

University's focus areas

  • Healthy Ageing
Last modified:29 March 2021 10.17 a.m.
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