Hindsight bias

It is a common observation that events in the past appear simple, comprehensible, and predictable in comparison to events in the future. Everyone has had the experience of believing that they knew all along the outcome of a football game, a political election or a business investment. The hindsight bias is the tendency for people with outcome knowledge to believe falsely that they would have predicted the reported outcome of an event. After learning of the occurrence of an event, people tend to exaggerate the extent to which they had foreseen the likelihood of its occurrence.

Synonyms: Rückschau-Fehler, knew-it-all-along effect, creeping determinism

Continue to: reverse hindsight bias, implications for further research, theoretical explanations

Literature: Fischhoff (1975), Hawkins & Hastie (1990)

Entry by: Stefan Schwarz

June 11, 1999
Direct questions and comments to: Glossary master