Neal Roese

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Neal Roese
Born February 13, 1965
Alma mater Ph.D. -University of Western Ontario
B.Sc. - University of British Columbia
Known for Counterfactual Thinking "If Only"
Scientific career
Fields Psychology
Judgement and Decision Making
Counterfactual Thinking
Hindsight Bias
Institutions Northwestern University
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Neal Roese (born February 13, 1965) holds the SC Johnson Chair in Global Marketing at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.[1] Trained as a social psychologist, he is most well known for his work on judgment and decision making, counterfactual thinking, and regret.


Neal Roese grew up in Vancouver, Winnipeg and Calgary, Canada. He received his B.Sc. in 1987 from the University of British Columbia, his MA in 1990 from the University of Manitoba, and his Ph.D. in 1993 from the University of Western Ontario with the dissertation "The functional basis of counterfactual thinking".[2] After a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of California, Santa Barbara, 1993-1994, he was appointed Assistant Professor, Northwestern University, 1994-2000, Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair in Social Psychology, Simon Fraser University, Canada, 2000-2002, Associate Professor and then Professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He was an Associate at the Center for Advanced Study, University of Illinois, 2008-2009.[3] Dr. Roese returned to Northwestern University as Professor of Marketing in 2009, with a joint appointment in the Department of Psychology.[4] In his current position, he teaches MBA and PhD courses centering on consumer choice.

Academic work[edit]

Neal Roese has published scholarly articles on topics including memory biases, emotion, and legal decision making.[5] He is the author of the 2005 book, If Only, which focused on the experience of regret in daily life.[6][7] According to WorldCat, the book is held in 289 libraries[8] He edited, with James M. Olson, the 1995 book What might have been: The social psychology of counterfactual thinking. ( Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum). According to WorldCat, the book is held in 423 libraries[9]

His work has been profiled in such outlets as Business Insider,[10] CBS News, NPR, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, and the Harvard Business Review.[11]

His research on Counterfactual thinking has shown that counterfactual thoughts and regret can be beneficial in that they feed into learning from experience.[12][13][14] Certain kinds of counterfactuals and regrets connect specifically to distinct motivational states, such as orientations toward either promotion or prevention.[15]

His research on regret has covered several topics, ranging from decision consequences of regret to the mental health implications of major life regrets. In the latter case, his research on life regrets show that when adults look back on their lives, they are most likely to regret facets of love and work, i.e., personal relationships and career accomplishment.[16]

He also was contributed to the theoretical understanding of "hindsight bias," defined as the tendency to see the past as more predictable than it was in foresight. As such, hindsight bias is a potent and widely studied cognitive trap for many decision makers. In 2012, he published a comprehensive review and theoretical reformulation of the scholarly literature on hindsight bias, spanning the disciplines of psychology, law, medicine, economics, political science, and history.[17] In earlier research, he showed that cognitive processes that serve to explain, clarify, and elaborate on events contribute to hindsight bias.[18][19] In fact, visualization tools that help to manage big data sets may paradoxically increase hindsight bias by contributing to an illusion of clarity.[11][20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Neal Roese". Kellogg School of Management. Northwestern University. Retrieved 8 January 2014.
  2. ^ WorldCat item entry
  3. ^ "Associate at the Center for Advanced Study".
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ "Neal Roese Citations". Google Scholar. Google. Retrieved 8 January 2014.
  6. ^ Roese, Neal (2005). If only : how to turn regret into opportunity (1st ed.). New York: Broadway Books. ISBN 0-7679-1577-1.
  7. ^ [2]
  8. ^ WorldCat item record
  9. ^ WorldCat item record
  10. ^ [3]
  11. ^ a b Roese, N; Vohs, KD (May 2010). "The Visualization Trap". Harvard Business Review. 88 (5): 26. ISSN 0017-8012.
  12. ^ Roese, Neal (January 1997). "Counterfactual thinking". Psychological Bulletin. 121 (1): 133–148. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.121.1.133. ISSN 0033-2909. PMID 9000895.
  13. ^ Roese, Neal (May 1994). "The functional basis of counterfactual thinking". Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 66 (5): 805–818. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.66.5.805. ISSN 0022-3514.
  14. ^ Epstude, Kai; Roese, N. J. (1 May 2008). "The Functional Theory of Counterfactual Thinking". Personality and Social Psychology Review. 12 (2): 168–192. doi:10.1177/1088868308316091. ISSN 1088-8683. PMC 2408534. PMID 18453477.
  15. ^ Roese, Neal; Hur, Taekyun; Pennington, Ginger L. (December 1999). "Counterfactual thinking and regulatory focus: Implications for action versus inaction and sufficiency versus necessity". Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 77 (6): 1109–1120. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.77.6.1109. ISSN 0022-3514. PMID 10626366.
  16. ^ Roese, N; Summerville, A (1 September 2005). "What We Regret Most... and Why". Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. 31 (9): 1273–1285. doi:10.1177/0146167205274693. ISSN 0146-1672. PMC 2394712. PMID 16055646.
  17. ^ Roese, N; Vohs, K (5 September 2012). "Hindsight Bias". Perspectives on Psychological Science. 7 (5): 411–426. doi:10.1177/1745691612454303. ISSN 1745-6916.
  18. ^ Roese, N; Maniar, S (1 December 1997). "Perceptions of Purple: Counterfactual and Hindsight Judgments at Northwestern Wildcats Football Games". Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. 23 (12): 1245–1253. doi:10.1177/01461672972312002. ISSN 0146-1672.
  19. ^ Roese, Neal; Olson, James (May 1996). "Counterfactuals, Causal Attributions, and the Hindsight Bias: A Conceptual Integration". Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. 32 (3): 197–227. doi:10.1006/jesp.1996.0010. ISSN 0022-1031.
  20. ^ Chen, J; Chiu, CY; Roese, NJ; Tam, KP; Lau, IYM (1 January 2006). "Culture and Counterfactuals: On the Importance of Life Domains". Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology. 37 (1): 75–84. doi:10.1177/0022022105282296. ISSN 0022-0221.

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