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The effect of dynamic proximity cues on counterfactual plausibility

Covey, J.; Zhang, Q.

The effect of dynamic proximity cues on counterfactual plausibility Thumbnail


Q. Zhang


Previous research has found that people consult closeness or proximity cues when they evaluate the plausibility or likelihood of a counterfactual alternative to reality. In this paper we asked whether the plausibility of counterfactuals extends to dynamic proximity cues that signal a sense of propensity or acceleration in the lead-up to an outcome. Subjects gambled on obtaining either three heads or three tails from three coin-flips. When they lost the gamble they thought it was more likely that they could have won if they had lost on the third coin-flip that was revealed rather than the first or second coin-flip. We discuss how the sense of propensity was raised prior to the revelation of the final decisive losing coin-flip which created a perception of psychological momentum towards winning. Moreover, the consequence of this propensity effect was to positively bias perceptions of the likelihood of the counterfactual winning outcome.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 5, 2014
Online Publication Date Nov 1, 2014
Publication Date Nov 1, 2014
Deposit Date Dec 1, 2014
Publicly Available Date Dec 9, 2014
Journal Judgment and Decision Making
Print ISSN 1930-2975
Publisher Society for Judgment and Decision Making
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 9
Issue 6
Pages 586-592
Keywords Counterfactual potency, Near-miss, Close counterfactuals, Proximity heuristic, Temporal-order effect, Propensity effect.
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