Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Developing thoughts about what might have been

Beck, Sarah R.; Riggs, Kevin


Sarah R. Beck


Recent research has changed how developmental psychologists understand counterfactual thinking or thoughts of what might have been. Evidence suggests that counterfactual thinking develops over an extended period into at least middle childhood, depends on domain-general processes including executive function and language, and dissociates from counterfactual emotions such as regret. In this article, we review the developmental evidence that forms a critical but often-overlooked complement to the cognitive, social, and neuroscience literatures. We also highlight topics for further research, including spontaneous counterfactual thinking and counterfactual thinking in clinical settings. © 2014 The Society for Research in Child Development.


Beck, S. R., & Riggs, K. (2014). Developing thoughts about what might have been. Child development perspectives, 8(3), 175-179.

Journal Article Type Article
Online Publication Date Aug 16, 2014
Publication Date 2014-09
Deposit Date Apr 21, 2015
Publicly Available Date Apr 21, 2015
Journal Child development perspectives
Print ISSN 1750-8592
Electronic ISSN 1750-8606
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 8
Issue 3
Pages 175-179
Keywords Counterfactual thinking, Cognitive development, Imagination, Regret
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Authors' accepted manuscript of article: Beck, S. R. and Riggs, K. J. (2014), Developing Thoughts About What Might Have Been. Child Dev Perspect, 8: 175–179. doi:10.1111/cdep.12082


You might also like

Downloadable Citations