Citation: Sanna, L. J., Meier, S., & Turley-Ames, K. J. (1998). Mood, self-esteem, and counterfactuals: Externally attributed moods limit self-enhancement strategies. Social Cognition, 16, 267-286.

Two studies demonstrated that moods can influence counterfactual direction, and that self-esteem and external mood attributions can moderate such influences. This was shown for hypothetical situations (Study 1) and for performances after a laboratory task (Study 2). Although both high self-esteem (HSE) and low self-esteem (LSE) persons generated more downward than upward counterfactuals when in positive moods (Study 1), they diverged in their reactions to negative moods (Studies 1 & 2): HSE persons generated more downward than upward counterfactuals, whereas LSE persons generated more upward than downward counterfactuals. HSE persons also felt better after generating downward counterfactuals when in negative moods (Study 2), suggesting a mood-repair strategy. Importantly, in both studies external attributions for moods moderated this pattern. Mood-repair strategies were not used when moods were externally attributed, implicating the self and the informational value of moods in this process.