The subject of children’s counterfactual thoughts

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Developmental psychologists debate when children acquire the ability to think counterfactually about what might have been. Most researchers have focused on the reasoning structure of counterfactual thoughts, but the subject matter about which children are asked to think counterfactually has been largely neglected. I review whether children’s counterfactual thinking differs across subject matter, specifically when they are asked to think about emotional, mechanistic, and temporal aspects of the world, concluding that the last is particularly important.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychology of Consciousness: Theory, Research, and Practice
Early online date23 Apr 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 23 Apr 2020


  • Child
  • Counterfactuals
  • Emotion
  • Imagination
  • Time

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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