We investigate how individuals learn from imagined might-have-been scenarios. We hypothesize that individuals are more likely to learn when they have responded to an event with upward-directed, self-focused counterfactual thoughts, and, additionally, that this learning process is inhibited by accountability to organizational superiors. Support for these hypotheses was obtained in two studies that assessed learning by aviation pilots from the experience of near accidents. Study 1 analyzed counterfactual thoughts and lessons in narrative reports filed by experienced pilots after actual dangerous aviation incidents. Study 2 involved laboratory experiments in which college students operated a flight simulator under different conditions of organizational accountability.
Morris, Michael, and P. Moore. "The lessons we (don't) learn: Counterfactual thinking and organizational accountability after a close call." Administrative Science Quarterly 45, no. 4 (2000): 737-765.
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