Levels of Hindsight Bias:
It was believed that there is only one kind of hindsight bias; however, researchers have identified three types of hindsight bias. These are memory distortion, inevitability, and foreseeability. Researchers, Roese and Vohs (2012), discovered that these aspects are organized.
In a hierarchical structure, memory distortion is at the base and foreseeability is at the top. (Refer to Figure 1)
Memory distortion- The memory distortion level focuses on an individualâ€™s inability to recall a previously made judgment (e.g., â€œI said it was going to occurâ€).
Inevitability- As the name suggests, the inevitability level refers to an individualâ€™s belief that the prior situation was inevitable (e.g., â€œIt had to happenâ€).
Foreseeability – The foreseeability level is subjective in nature. It revolves around oneâ€™s beliefs about oneâ€™s capabilities and awareness (e.g., â€œI knew it will occurâ€). It implies thinking that one should have predicted a now-factual occurrence individually, thereby portraying the idea that “I knew it all along.”
Causes of Hindsight Bias:
Researchers, Roese and Vohs(2012), explain three main factors that cause hindsight bias- cognitive, metacognitive, and motivational factors (see below)
Cognitive: This factor comprises threes components, namely, recollection, knowledge updating, and sensemaking. In recollection, individuals try to remember their previous predictions that were made before the event occurred. Errors in recollection are most commonly seen in the memory distortion level. Knowledge updating refers to the assimilation of new information into the pre-existing memory. Taking the same example from the overview section, when Real Madrid wins the match, this victory will be immediately joined with the pre-existing information about the players game over the years, coachâ€™s facilitation, etc. When the new insight makes a close logical match with former understanding, it leads to feelings of clarity, i.e., the context is now more readily understood, and therefore is more effectively “predicted” post the event occurs. Sensemaking involves the reasoning that makes sense with respect to the wider implications for the individual. Events that have precise reasons for its occurrence (post event) illicit higher hindsight bias than do events whose reasons are vague.
Metacognitive: When one can readily explain how or why an occurrence unfolded, it can appear the incident was easily predicted.
Motivational: The motivational factor comprises the need for closure and self-esteem. Individuals tend to see the world as a straightforward place and find it difficult to accept that certain things are out of their control. For example, people prefer choosing their own lottery tickets than letting another person do that for them, although the probability of winning is the same in both ways. It has been seen in various studies that individuals who have a high need for closure/control show higher hindsight bias. It has also been seen that many a times when people talk about their past, they boost their self-esteem by taking credit for their achievement and criticizing others for their downfall.
Consequences of Hindsight Bias:
Myopia- Thinking myopically refers to an individualâ€™s inability to conduct a thorough exploration of the possible causal factors for a given event. These often become â€œcognitive misersâ€, as they get carried away by whatever explanation they come across first.
Overconfidence- Individuals can become overconfident and are more likely to take needless chances if they wrongly assume that they have extraordinary foresight or instincts. This makes individuals reluctant to go over their previous doings once again and consequently inhibits them to think about new techniques to solve a problem. A typical scenario of overconfidence resulting out of hindsight bias could be when gamblers have the hindsight bias that they can win the gambling when bid between the price range of $200- $300; however, statistics suggests $150-$250 leading to increased risks financially.
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