Don’t Be Seduced by Counterfactuals

Photo by Robert Ruggiero on Unsplash

There’s a strange lure to thoughts like “what if…?” and “if only…”. When you skip a party to stay home with a movie, it’s natural to think “what if I’m missing out on the fun?”. And when you choose the party, you might think “wow it’s noisy here — if only I’d stayed home with a movie”.

These what-if scenarios are referred to as “counterfactuals”, and most of us are obsessed with them. Research is now…