Escape from reality: prisoners’ counterfactual thinking about crime, justice, and punishment
Our understanding of an event is influenced not only by what actually happened, but also by what “coulda, woulda, or shoulda” happened. These thoughts about how the past might have happened differently are known as counterfactuals. Counterfactual thinking is prevalent in domains of ordinary personal life such as career and romance (Landman and Manis 1992), after traumatic life experiences such as bereavement (Davis et al. 1995), and in public life as observed during public inquiries (Reiss 2001) and court cases (Kassin et al. 1990).