Motivated by us But Not by Them: Group Membership Influences the Impact of Counterfactual Thinking on Behavioral Intentions
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2016 Guilford Publications, Inc. Counterfactual thoughts about "what might have been" allow individuals to improve future outcomes based on insights from past events. Previous research has examined how counterfactuals about the self facilitate future improvement. The current research examined how group membership influences behavioral intentions developed from counterfactuals about another's actions. Participants who read counterfactual-inducing vignettes formed stronger intentions relative to participants who read non-counterfactual-inducing vignettes; this effect was stronger for in-group targets than for out-group targets (Study 1). Furthermore, when group membership was manipulated experimentally, counterfactuals facilitated behavioral intention judgments for in-group targets but not out-group targets (Study 2). Together, the current research demonstrates that group membership can influence the counterfactual-behavioral intention relationship.