Publication Details

Chan, A. Y., Jones, S. C. & Rich, K. T. (2007). ''If only...'': counterfactual thinking heightens women's sense of responsibility regarding mammography screening. In K. H. Moore (Eds.), Psychology Making an Impact. Proceedings of the 42nd Annual Conference of the Australian Psychological Society. (pp. 72-76). Melbourne, VIC: Australian Psychological Society Ltd.


The present study tested the prediction that counterfactual thinking (thoughts of if only&) provides a vivid means for women to imagine whatcould have been done differently in hypothetical breast cancer scenarios for the protagonist to avoid their predicament.This should then encourage themto adopt a more preventative approach to and take greater personal responsibility toward their own breast health.Women aged 50 and older (N=181) read either a standard pamphlet on mammography rescreening or one containing counterfactually framed scenarios.The latter depicted fictitiouswomen whose failure to have routine mammograms contributed to their diagnosis with advance-stage breast cancer.The counterfactual group subsequently indicated greater feelings of personal responsibilityfor having mammograms at the recommended interval than the standard group, even when perceived effectiveness of early detection andtreatment were statistically controlled for. Our data suggest that messages utilising counterfactual thinking may be useful in augmenting themammography rescreening rate in Australia.

Link to publisher version (URL)

Australian Psychological Society Annual Conference