Efeitos do pensar sobre o passado : pensamentos contrafactuais de estudantes universitários com e sem indicativos de depressão
Faccioli, Juliana Sarantopoulos
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Counterfactual thinking is a type of imaginative thought, usually characterized by “What if” thoughts, in other words, hypothetical alternatives to reality, commonly spontaneously elaborated by negative or unexpected events. There are some functions of counterfactual thinking that are important for adaptation, such as re-elaboration about everyday life. Some researche indicate that the function of this type of thought can be a handicap. The objectives of this study were to: (1) compare counterfactual thinking of undergraduates with and without signs of depression, to verify if there is any difference in the way they think about alternatives to reality and (2) verify what kinds of activities to generate counterfactual thinking are most effective. Participants were 145 undergraduates, with an average age of 22,1 years. For the comparison sample, the students were divided in two groups, according to their scores on the Beck Depression Inventory: people without signs of depression (less than 8 points) and people with signs of depression (more than 12 points). Participants answered identification questions, the Beck Depression Inventory and the Counterfactual Thought Evaluation Technique (including a self-report measure and three stories). Participants answers was categorized by content analysis and the frequency of each category was compared using between groups t-Test. Participants with signs of depression wrote more self-reports about affective relationship and participants without signs of depression wrote more self reports about academic situations. In general, the style of counterfactual thinking showed few statistical differences between groups. Counterfactual self-reports presented the greatest differences, and indicate that people with signs of depression tended to elaborate more counterfactual thinking than people without signs of depression, when they reflected on their situations. For the self-report, counterfactual thinking was, in general, categorized as upward, additive, self referent and based on an action/inaction. For the three stories, there was no difference between the styles of counterfactual thinking between the two groups and their responses were categorized as mostly upward, subtractive, self referent and based on an action/inaction. Only the story with a positive outcome led to more downward counterfactual thinking. From this research, concludes that people with indicative of depression tend to generate more counterfactual thoughts than people without indicative of depression, especially when they think about self-report and stories with negative outcomes. The style of counterfactual thinking described by both groups presented the same pattern, which indicates that the style of counterfactual thinking may not be related to maintenance or development of depressive symptoms.