Does Thinking Make It So? the Effect of Counterfactual Thinking on Product Evaluations

Counterfactual thinking (CFT) is the process of reflecting on past events and simulating alternative possible outcomes. CFT may operate in either of two directions: upward vs. downward counterfactuals. Upward counterfactuals are alternatives that are better than actuality (e.g., If only I had purchased product B, I would not have to waste so much time and effort getting product A repaired). Downward counterfactuals are alternatives that are worse than actuality (e.g., At least product A, the product I purchased, is cheaper and product B may not work any better than A). In three studies, we demonstrate that counterfactual thinking impacts consumers’ product evaluations and extensiveness of information processing moderates these effects. Our results indicate that post-purchase marketing efforts, such as follow-up customer surveys, can engage consumers in counterfactual thinking and influence their product evaluations.


Kai-Yu Wang, Minli Liang, and Laura Peracchio (2010) ,"Does Thinking Make It So? the Effect of Counterfactual Thinking on Product Evaluations ", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 37, eds. Margaret C. Campbell, Jeff Inman, and Rik Pieters, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 589-590 .


Kai-Yu Wang, Brock University, Canada
Minli Liang, State Universirty of New York at Brockport, USA
Laura Peracchio, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, USA


NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 37 | 2010

Share Proceeding

Featured papers

See More


The Last Hurrah Effect: End-of-Week and End-of-Month Time Periods Increase Financial Risk-Taking

Xinlong Li, University of Toronto, Canada
Avni Shah, University of Toronto, Canada

Read More


Q11. The Effect of Message Ephemerality on Information Processing

Uri Barnea, University of Pennsylvania, USA
Robert Meyer, University of Pennsylvania, USA
Gideon Nave, University of Pennsylvania, USA

Read More


C6. How Does Unsatisfied Curiosity Stir Our Craving For Food?

Chen Wang, Drexel University, USA

Read More

Engage with Us

Becoming an Association for Consumer Research member is simple. Membership in ACR is relatively inexpensive, but brings significant benefits to its members.