Hindsight Bias: I Knew It All Along

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Have you ever looked back on something and thought, "I saw that coming all along!"? We often think we could have predicted outcomes of events after they have occurred, but chances are we never had a single clue. That is because we tend to become victims of hindsight bias: our tendency to overestimate how well we could have successfully forecasted known outcomes.
In 1986, Professor Karl Teigen, now at University of Oslo, conducted a study where he asked students to evaluate proverbs. The results showed that the students tended to agree with every proverb the professor presented them, even when the proverbs contradicted each other. For example, if you were presented with the proverb, "love is stronger than fear," you would probably think it makes sense. On the other hand, if you were presented with "fear is stronger than love," you would most likely agree with that too, right? Professor Teigen is using this point to show how what we think is just common sense usually is not; hindsight bias can often affect our judgment.
Hindsight bias is one of the main reasons why people think they are right and stand their grounds in debates or conflicts. Our minds sometimes alter our memories to favor the way we think. So if we think that we learned about something in the past when we did not, hindsight bias causes us to think that we did. It is important to keep in mind that it is easier for us to "predict" events that are already available and in the past than events that have not occurred. So, always keep a skeptical mindset before you boast your psychic abilities.

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This page contains a single entry by wong0421 published on October 9, 2011 4:27 PM.

What Are We Thinking? was the previous entry in this blog.

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