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“At least David Cameron resigned”: The protective effects of just-world beliefs for counterfactual thinking after Brexit

Sirois, Fuschia M.; Iyer, Aarti


Aarti Iyer


Following an unexpected geo-political event, such as the United Kingdom's June 2016 referendum vote to leave the European Union (“Brexit”), people will make counterfactuals that mentally undo the outcome and imagine what might have been had the outcome gone in the predicted direction. Yet little is known about how such counterfactuals may impact well-being, or the individual differences that might protect individuals from making potentially distressing upward counterfactuals. We examined the extent to which individual differences in enduring just-world beliefs shape the number of upward counterfactuals generated by British “Remain” voters, and the resulting effects on vote-related well-being. Participants who were directed to make counterfactuals reported the same levels of vote-related well-being as those who were not directed to make counterfactuals. Among those who made counterfactuals, making more upward counterfactuals was associated with reduced well-being. However, holding just-world beliefs limited the number of upward counterfactuals that were made and thus protected individuals from this distress. Our findings demonstrate that individual differences in enduring beliefs about the fairness of a vote may protect voter well-being when there will not be a second vote.

Journal Article Type Article
Online Publication Date Sep 15, 2017
Publication Date Jan 15, 2018
Deposit Date Jul 4, 2022
Journal Personality and Individual Differences
Print ISSN 0191-8869
Publisher Elsevier
Volume 121
Public URL