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Hindsight bias, sometimes called the I-knew-it-all-along effect, is the inclination to see past events as being predictable and reasonable to expect, perhaps because they are more available than possible outcomes which did not occur. Subjects also tend to remember their own future predictions as being more accurate than they were after the fact. People are, in effect, biased by the knowledge of what has actually happened when evaluating its likelihood.
Hindsight bias has been demonstrated experimentally in a variety of settings, including politics, games and medicine. Prophecy that is recorded after the fact is an example of hindsight bias, given its own rubric, as Vaticinium ex eventu.
It has been shown that examining possible alternatives may reduce the effects of this bias.
The following common phrases are illustrative of this fallacy:
- With the wisdom of hindsight.
- Now you tell me!
- Retrospective foresight.
- Hindsight is 20/20.
- Bernstein, Michael André. (1994). Foregone Conclusions: Against Apocalyptic History. Berkeley: University of California Press.
- Fischhoff, B. & Beyth, R. (1975). "I knew it would happen": Remembered probabilities of once-future things. Organizational Behavior and Human Performance 13, 1-16.
- García Landa, José Ángel. (2004) "The Hermeneutic Spiral from Schleiermacher to Goffman: Retroactive Thematization, Interaction, and Interpretation." BELL (Belgian English Language and Literature) ns 2: 155-66.
- Memory (2003). Special issue on Hindsight Bias, ed. Ulrich Hoffrage and Rüdiger F. Pohl).11.4/5.
- Morson, Gary Saul. (1994). Narrative and Freedom: The Shadows of Time. New Haven: Yale University Press.
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