hindsight n : understanding the nature of an event after it has happened; "hindsight is always better than foresight"
- Rhymes: -aɪt
- Realisation or
and nature of events after they have occurred
- ''When you read "Seven Little Rabbits" at age 6 and read it again 15 years later, the hindsight you've developed in the time between will make you look at and think of the book much differently than you did the first time!''
- The rear sight of a firearm
the phrase "in hindsight"
- German: im Nachhinein
Hindsight bias is the inclination to see events that have occurred as more predictable than they in fact were before they took place. Hindsight bias has been demonstrated experimentally in a variety of settings, including politics, games and medicine. In psychological experiments of hindsight bias, subjects also tend to remember their predictions of future events as having been stronger than they actually were, in those cases where those predictions turn out correct.
Prophecy that is recorded after the fact is an example of hindsight bias, given its own rubric, as vaticinium ex eventu.
One explanation of the bias is the availability heuristic; the event that did occur is more salient in one's mind than the possible outcomes that did not.
It has been shown that examining possible alternatives may reduce the effects of this bias.
Classic studiesPaul Lazarsfeld (1949): Lazarsfeld gave participants interpretive statements that seemed like common sense immediately after they were read, but in actuality the opposite was true.
Karl Teigen (1986): Teigen gave participants proverbs to evaluate. When participants were given the proverb "Fear is stronger than love", most students would rate it as true; when given its opposite ("Love is stronger than fear"), most would also rate that as true.
PhrasesThe following common phrases are expressions or terms for hindsight bias:
- 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.
- Meyers, David G. (2005). Social Psychology. Boston: McGraw Hill (p. 18-19).
- Social Cognition (2007). Special issue on the Hindsight Bias, ed. Hartmut Blank, Jochen Musch & Rüdiger F. Pohl, Vol 25 (1).
- Objects in the Rearview Mirror May Appear Firmer Than They Are: Retrospective/Retroactive Narrative Dynamics in Criticism (José Ángel García Landa, University of Zaragoza, Spain)
- Excerpt from: David G. Meyers, Exploring Social Psychology. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1994, pp.15-19. (More discussion of Paul Lazarsfeld's experimental questions.)
- Forecasting (Macro and Micro) and Future Concepts Ken Fisher on Market Analysis (4/7/06)
- Iraq War Naysayers May Have Hindsight Bias. Shankar Vedantam. Washington Post. -- Explores whether liberals may have hindsight bias in saying they knew the Iraq was going to go badly.
hindsight in German: Rückschaufehler
hindsight in Spanish: Prejuicio de retrospectiva
hindsight in French: Biais rétrospectif
hindsight in Polish: Efekt pewności wstecznej
hindsight in Russian: Хиндсайт