Date of Award

5-8-2020

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Heather Kleider-Offutt

Second Advisor

David Washburn

Third Advisor

Eyal Aharoni

Abstract

Counterfactual thinking has been described by researchers as imagining alternative outcomes to a previous event (i.e., how that event could have turned out differently). Research has shown susceptibility towards systemic biases in this thought pattern. Specifically, these biases can include racial prejudices, such as decision-making favoring one race over another, and attribution errors, such as blaming a victim for an unfortunate circumstance. Research suggests that factors that increase the use of heuristics lead to increased victim blaming, racially biased decisions, and counterfactual thinking. The current studies suggest that counterfactual thinking has a positive relationship with blame assignment and that both of these factors can be influenced by race.

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