The Functional Theory of Counterfactual Thinking
Who among us has never wondered about what might have been had some past choice been different? With perhaps a little more effort, you might have been an athlete, a doctor, maybe even a rock star. Who among us has never regretted choices made and actions taken? Maybe you should have studied harder in school, traveled more when you had the chance, or had the salmon for lunch instead of the pasta. And who has never pondered a lost love and imagined how passionate it might have been? Thinking about what might have been, about alternatives to our own pasts, is central to human thinking and emotion. Such thoughts are called counterfactual thoughts.