The Ontogenesis of Counterfactual Emotions: Regret and Relief

Guerini, Rossella (2013) The Ontogenesis of Counterfactual Emotions: Regret and Relief. PhD thesis, University of Trento.

PDF - Doctoral Thesis


The aim of the present work is to investigate the development of counterfactual emotions in children aged 3 to 10. More specifically, this work deals with the development of the emotions of regret and relief. Five studies were conducted to determine at which age children start to understand, to feel and to attribute to others counterfactual emotions, as well as to experience the comparison with others during a choice. Study 1 aims to replicate Weisberg and Beck’s paradigm, developed in 2010; and its results point out that children are able to feel regret at 5 years of age and relief at 7. Study 2 introduces some methodological changes and shows that children are able to report regret and relief starting at 6. The importance of the responsibility for the choice in the experience of regret is supported by the results concerning the manipulation of sense of agency (Study 3), with an effect on the experience of counterfactual emotions starting at 6 years old. To investigate the relationship between the ability to attribute to others emotions and to feel an emotion, study 4 aims to test whether children attribute to others regret and relief before experiencing them. The last study (Study 5: participants aged 3-11) concerns the development of social comparison and the experience of envy or gloating compared with the experience of regret and relief. The results reveal an effect of social comparison that precedes the effects of the two counterfactual emotions.

Item Type:Doctoral Thesis (PhD)
Doctoral School:Psychological Sciences and Education
PhD Cycle:26
Subjects:Area 11 - Scienze storiche, filosofiche, pedagogiche e psicologiche
Repository Staff approval on:02 Jan 2014 09:47

Repository Staff Only: item control page