What is Hindsight Bias?
I’m sure we all heard of the latest internet drama where a member of the group known as the Try Guys cheated on his wife. So while I was catching up on all the drama on reddit and twitter, I kept noticing a bunch of comments that essentially said the same thing, that being “I knew it all along”. This along with clips of older videos being seen in a new light made me start thinking about what this says about humanity. In the past, I have heard about hindsight bias and this event made me want to look deeper into what causes it and what its consequences are.
Hindsight bias is the psychological phenomenon in which a person convinces themselves that there were many signs which made this event predictable much before it actually happened. Basically this is the bias that causes people to say “I knew it all along”. In this blog post, I will discuss the causes and consequences of hindsight bias as laid out by Neal J. Roese and Kathleen D. Vohs.
Causes of Hindsight Bias
Recollection - when people retrieve earlier information, they often distort what they know now with what they actually knew in the past.
Knowledge updating – the mixture of new and old information to create a reality that fits your brain’s conceptual view of the world.
Sense making – The desire to create a clean cut narrative (beginning, middle, end) out of a situation to make the ending seem more predictable.
Metacognition – when the new information is easy to process in a way that makes sense, it makes it feel more natural, inevitable and easy to accept
Need for closure – The human desire for control or closure leads to justifications for events being the way they are.
Self esteem – the desire to be right about a situation and the satisfaction of telling someone “I told you so.”
Consequences of Hindsight Bias
Myopia – leads to close mindedness. The desire for an explanation leads to not considering all the options or reasons for an outcome.
Overconfidence – nothing is more satisfying than telling someone “I told you so”. This comes from the false superiority you feel after being right about uncertain events, despite having no proof prior to the events transpiring.
Roese, & Vohs, K. D. (2012). Hindsight Bias. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 7(5), 411–426. https://doi.org/10.1177/1745691612454303