- «Я знал, что так и будет!»: почему мы верим, что предвидели результат событий
- Новая информация искажает наши воспоминания
- И это может быть опасно
- Как бороться с этой ошибкой
- Hindsight bias — Biases & Heuristics
- Why it happens
- Example #1 – Political predictions
- Example #2 – Blaming victims
- How to avoid it
- Understanding the Key Aspects of Hindsight Bias With Examples
- Did You Know?
- Hindsight Bias―What it Entails
- Experiment Conducted by Bolt and Brink
- Effects of the Bias
- Hindsight Bias Examples
«Я знал, что так и будет!»: почему мы верим, что предвидели результат событий
Допустим, вы хотите пригласить на свидание симпатичного вам человека. Если он откажется, вы воскликнете: «Я так и знал! Ведь очевидно же, что он для меня слишком хорош». А если согласится, скажете: «Я так и знал! Ведь явно я нравлюсь ему». То, что уже произошло, всегда кажется очевидным и предсказуемым. И это работа ретроспективного искажения.
Новая информация искажает наши воспоминания
Результат какого-то события невозможно предугадать. Мы можем только строить предположения. Но после, когда вся информация у нас в руках, нам кажется, что мы предвидели исход дела. Первоначальное мнение искажается свершившимся фактом. Мы начинаем верить, что думали так с самого начала. Это и есть ретроспективное искажение, или ошибка хайндсайта .
Мозг постоянно обновляет имеющиеся у нас данные. Это защищает от перегрузки памяти и помогает делать актуальные выводы. Ошибка хайндсайта же — побочный эффект такого процесса.
Люди заметили её давно, но тщательно изучили только в середине 1970-х. Для этого провели целую серию экспериментов . Так, в одном из них участники оценивали вероятность событий, которые могут произойти после визита американского президента в Пекин и Москву. После его возвращения их просили вспомнить, что они считали наиболее вероятным при первом опросе.
И участники выбирали варианты, которые произошли на самом деле, — даже если до поездки президента оценивали их по-другому.
В основе этой ошибки мышления лежат три эффекта, которые взаимодействуют друг с другом:
- Искажение воспоминаний («Я говорил, что так будет»). Наши воспоминания не статичны. Видя свершившийся факт, мы начинаем думать, что и правда склонялись к нему.
- Эффект неизбежности («Это должно было случиться»). Мы пытаемся осмыслить произошедшее, опираясь на ту информацию, которая у нас теперь есть. И делаем вывод: раз событие случилось, значит, оно было неизбежным.
- Эффект предсказуемости («Я с самого начала знал, что это произойдёт»). Раз событие такое «неизбежное», значит, его легко предвидеть. Мы начинаем верить, что так и сделали.
Например, вы досмотрели фильм и узнали, кто же был убийцей. Вы оглядываетесь назад: вспоминаете сюжетные повороты и реплики персонажей, которые намекали на такой финал. Неважно, какое впечатление складывалось у вас во время просмотра, — теперь вам кажется, что вы поняли всё с самого начала. И дело не ограничивается только фильмами.
И это может быть опасно
Будущее не предвидишь. Но после череды удачных совпадений можно поверить, что вам это под силу. Если ваши предположения сбываются, уверенность в себе возрастает. И довольно быстро переходит в сверхуверенность. Конечно, раз вы предсказали прошлые события, значит, и будущие можете предугадать. Теперь вы слишком полагаетесь на свою интуицию и идёте на неоправданные риски.
И хорошо ещё, если они затрагивают только вас. Но если вы судья или врач, ваши ошибки могут сказаться на других людях. Например, уже доказано , что ретроспективное искажение влияет на решения в юридической системе.
Ещё оно мешает нам учиться на своих ошибках. Если вам кажется, что вы знали исход дела с самого начала, вы не задумаетесь о реальных причинах произошедшего.
«Это было неизбежно», — говорите вы, чтобы скрыть от себя правду: вы могли что-то сделать по-другому.
Например, вы приходите на собеседование, к которому заранее не готовились. Вы плохо отвечаете на вопросы, и работа достаётся другому, даже если он менее квалифицированный, чем вы. Сложно смириться с мыслью, что вы сами виноваты, поэтому вы убеждаете себя, что всё было предопределено.
Как бороться с этой ошибкой
Мы часто отбрасываем информацию, которая не вписывается в нашу картину мира. Чтобы побороть это, представьте, как ещё могла бы сложиться ситуация. Постарайтесь логически объяснить другие варианты развития событий — так вы яснее увидите причинно-следственные связи.
Заведите дневник предсказаний. Записывайте в него свои предположения о переменах в политической жизни и карьере, о своём весе и здоровье, о возможном финале любимого сериала.
Время от времени сравнивайте эти записи с настоящим положением дел. И вы удивитесь, насколько плохо вы «предсказываете» будущее.
Почитайте дневники исторических деятелей и сравните их предположения с реальным ходом событий. Загляните в новости пяти-, десяти- или двадцатилетней давности. И вы поймёте, насколько жизнь на самом деле непредсказуема.
Ну и конечно, напоминайте себе об ошибке хайндсайта. Когда хочется воскликнуть «Я знал, что так и будет!», притормозите. А если во время спора ваш собеседник утверждает, что он всегда оказывался прав, сделайте ему поблажку. Ведь он действительно верит в это из-за ретроспективного искажения.
Hindsight bias — Biases & Heuristics
The hindsight bias is our tendency to look back at an unpredictable event and think it was easily predictable. It is also called the ‘knew-it-all-along’ effect.
Consider this hypothetical: John and Jane have a fantastic relationship. They are madly in love, and have plans to move in together in a few months — at least that’s what John thinks.
One day after work, John receives a message from Jane: ‘We need to talk.’ Suddenly, he gets worried. Is everything alright? Does Jane still love him? He did notice some tension between them the last few weeks. It turns out, Jane is not so happy with the relationship. She needs a break from John.
He knew it! John tells himself, and then his friends. Now that he looks back at his relationship with Jane, he saw many signs that pointed to trouble: cancelled plans, awkwardness, being ignored by her friends, and so forth. He had known it all along, and so this bad news from Jane was no surprise to him.
This is the hindsight bias at work. An unforeseen break-up becomes foreseeable to John after it takes place. He overestimates his ability to have predicted the end of his relationship with Jane once the relationship is suddenly over.
The hindsight bias can have a negative influence on our decision-making. Part of what goes into making good decisions is realistically assessing their consequences. It can lead to an overconfidence in our ability to predict these consequences.
If we look back at past decisions and conclude that their consequences were indeed known to us at the time (when they weren’t), then it makes sense that we will overestimate our ability to foresee the implications of our future decisions. This can be dangerous, as our overconfidence may lead us to take unnecessary risks.
1 Think of a gambler who looks back at past losses as predictable, making him increasingly confident that his next trip to the casino will be successful.
This bias can have troubling implications across different academic and professional areas.
The accurate study of past historical and political events or trends may be tainted if researchers are unable to put themselves in the shoes of decision-makers at the time — who’s decisions were not informed by the foresight we have studying them in retrospect.
This can cause details that seem obvious after-the-fact to be overlooked. Law, insurance, and finance all rely on realistic risk assessments similar past events. The bias can distort these predictions.
The hindsight bias happens when new information surrounding a past experience changes our recollection of that experience from an original thought into something different.2 According to psychological scientists Neal Roese and Kathleen Vohs, there are three stacking levels on which this can occur.
The first level is “memory distortion.” This involves misremembering a past judgment or opnition. We often do this when claiming we said something when we didn’t. The second level is centered around our belief that a past event was inevitable.
Roese and Vohs call this degree of hindsight bias “inevitability.” The last level, “foreseeability,” entails believing that we could have foreseen the event.
3 So, the bias occurs when we misremember our past thoughts, think a past event was inevitable, and subsequently, believe the event was foreseeable.
From their review of existing literature on hindsight bias, Roese and Vohs conclude that there are three main sorts of variables that affect the three levels of hindsight bias to create our tendency of overestimating our predictive abilities:
- Cognitive: We often distort their memory of past events by selectively remembering information that confirms what we already now know to be true. We do this to create a story that makes sense with the information we already have in what’s known as “sensemaking.” This is related to confirmation bias.
- Metacognitive: Metacognition is when we think about our thoughts themselves. When people find it easy to think and understand a past judgement or event (an earlier thought), they can confuse ease with certainty. It is often easy to understand how or why an event happened in retrospect, due, at least in part, to the availability heuristic. This makes us certain that it is an understanding we had before.
- Motivational: It brings us comfort to think that the world is orderly and predictable. This can motivate us to see unpredictable events as predictable. It also feels nice to think that your predictions were right or that you “knew-it-all-along” even if you might not have. Research shows that our actions are often subconsciously motivated to promote a positive view of ourselves.4,5
It is important that we are aware of the implications it can have in our lives. As mentioned earlier, the overconfidence it often produces can have damaging implications.
An essential part of making good decisions in our personal and professional lives is having realistic predictions about the future. The hindsight bias gets in the way by distorting the internal track-record we have of our past predictions.
This can lead to overly confident future predictions that justify risky decisions with bad outcomes.
More broadly, the bias prevents us from learning from our experiences.
If we already feel that we knew something all along, it is unly that we will carefully reflect on its outcome, and it will certainly prevent us from understanding why our predictions at the time might have been wrong. Ultimately, this can prevent us from understanding the true nature of an event or from identifying issues in how we make predictions.
If you feel you knew it all along, it means you won’t stop to examine why something really happened…“It’s often hard to convince seasoned decision makers that they might fall prey to hindsight bias.”- Neal Roese, expert in psychology of judgment and decision-making
One way that Roese and Vohs suggest counteracting hindsight bias is to consider and explain how the outcomes that did not unfold could have unfolded.
By mentally reviewing all the potential outcomes, an event will seem less inevitable and foreseeable.
However, Roese and Vohs note that we should not look to consider an overwhelming number of alternative outcomes, as the decision-maker could misinterpret this difficulty as an indication of their implausibility rather than their sheer number.6
Another way of addressing dangerous overconfidence is to keep track of your past decisions and their associated predictions.
This can be done in what’s known as a “decision journal,” which is similar to a diary but details your decisions and what you were thinking when you made them.
7 Having an unalterable track record of the predictions associated with your decisions (which will surely show some false predictions) might prevent the mistake of thinking you always ‘knew it all along.’
While the “knew it all along” phenomenon is not new, its formal scientific study started in the early 1970s.
Motivated by the seminal work of his supervisors, Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, on heuristics, Baruch Fischhoff was the first to study hindsight bias experimentally.
He was motivated by an article by Paul Meehl on doctors exaggerating their feeling of having known all along how their patient cases were going to turn out.
Interested in the phenomenon and its application to the predictability of political events in hindsight, Fischhoff joined with researcher Ruth Beyth-Marom to test the hypothesis in 1975. To do this, Fischhoff and Beyth asked participants to predict how ly the various outcomes to then US President Nixon’s upcoming trip to China and the Soviet Union were.
Once Nixon had finished the trip, Fischhoff and Beyth asked participants to recall their initial predictions.
The results showed that participants did not stick to the predictions they made before the trip, but instead gravitated towards the real outcomes of the trip.
In other words, they recalled their predictions differently, favouring outcomes they knew were true in retrospect. This study inspired a broader scientific inquiry into the hindsight bias.8
It is not uncommon to hear people claim that they predicted the outcome of political elections. Researchers Dorothee Dietrich and Matthew Olson conducted a study in 1993 to evaluate the extent to which voters alter their predictions following an election.
Dietrich and Olson asked 57 college students at Hamline University to predict how the U.S. Senate would vote on the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas.
More specifically, participants were asked to predict the outcome of the vote, how it would be split between parties in the Senate, and to indicate how confident they were in their prediction.
A month after the vote, participants were then asked to recall their predictions and level of confidence.9
The results supported the influence of the hindsight bias: before the Senate vote, 58% of students predicted that Thomas would be confirmed. But when students were questioned after the successful confirmation, 78% of them claimed that they thought Thomas would be approved.10
In both the court of law and public opinion, hindsight bias may have a role to play in ‘victim-blaming.
’ As mentioned above, part of the reason why the bias arises is that we often look for the easiest explanations and predictions in order to quickly make sense of the world.
It is easier to focus on individuals and their actions over more nuanced, systemic causes. It is also easy to form and support predictions for events that have already occurred.
This may explain the prevalence of ‘victim-blaming’ in cases involving sexual assault. Victims of such cases or ‘survivors’ are often blamed for their affliction using the rationale, ‘they should have known better’ in retrospect. Indeed, studies have shown that this bias contributes to victim derogation in rape cases.
Hindsight bias is our tendency to look back at an event that we could not predict at the time and think the outcome was easily predictable. It is also called the ‘knew-it-all-along’ effect.
Why it happens
Firstly, we often distort their memory of past events by selectively remembering information that confirms what we already know to be true. This is done to create a story that makes sense with the information we already have in what’s known as “sensemaking.
” Secondly, when people find it easy to think and understand a past judgement or event (an earlier thought), they can confuse ease with certainty. It is often easy to understand how or why an event happened in retrospect. This makes us certain that it is an understanding we had before. Thirdly, it brings us comfort to think that the world is orderly and predictable.
This can motivate us to see unpredictable events as predictable. Lastly, It feels good to think that you “knew-it-all-along” even if you might not have.
Example #1 – Political predictions
People often claim that they predicted the outcome of political elections. A 1993 study asked college students to predict how the U.S. Senate would vote on the confirmation of a Supreme Court nominee.
A month after the vote, participants were then asked to recall their predictions and level of confidence. Results supported the influence of hindsight bias: before the Senate vote, 58% of students predicted that Thomas would be confirmed.
But when students were questioned after the successful confirmation, 78% of them claimed that they thought Thomas would be approved.
Example #2 – Blaming victims
Hindsight bias may have a role to play in the ‘victim blaming’ prevalent in sexual assault cases. Part of the reason why hindsight bias arises, is that we often look for the easiest explanations and predictions in order to quickly make sense of the world.
It is easier to focus on individuals and their actions over more nuanced, systemic causes. It is also easy to form and support predictions for events that have already occurred. This may be why sexual assault victims or ‘survivors’ are often blamed for their affliction using the rationale, ‘they should have known better’ in retrospect.
Research suggests that hindsight bias contributes to victim derogation in rape cases.
How to avoid it
One strategy is to consider and explain how the outcomes that did not unfold could have unfolded. By mentally reviewing all the potential outcomes, an event will seem less inevitabile and foreseeable.
Another way of addressing the dangerous overconfidence that hindsight bias can result in, is to keep track of your past decisions and their associated predictions.
Having an explicit and unalterable track record of the predictions associated with your decisions (which will surely show some false predictions) might prevent the mistake of thinking you always ‘knew it all along.’
Understanding the Key Aspects of Hindsight Bias With Examples
Hindsight bias is the tendency to view events as being more predictable than they really are, of predicting the outcome of something that cannot really be predicted. In this PsycholoGenie post, we will explore this phenomenon is greater detail and provide examples of the same.
Did You Know?
The hindsight bias is also referred to as creeping determinism, and the knew-it-all-along effect.
The hindsight bias refers to a person’s belief and tendency of having predicted the outcome of an event when, in reality, there was no sure way of knowing the outcome.
This is a fairly common phenomenon that most people tend to take up at some point of time in their lives―some, more often than others.
There are varied nuances to this occurrence and the effect of harboring and encouraging this tendency can lead to limitations in any decision-making process.
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The following sections of this PsycholoGenie article will give you a detailed understanding of what the hindsight bias entails, the effects of the same, and real life examples to understand it better.
Hindsight Bias―What it Entails
The simplest way to explain the occurrence of this phenomenon is with the term ‘I knew it’. Have you ever had an experience where you (or anyone else) has looked upon the outcome of something and said ‘I knew it’? This, right here, is the workings of the hindsight bias.
It’s really interesting how this theory comes into play and how the human mind works―when a person is waiting for the outcome of something, there is always this feeling of uncertainty, of not being sure about the results, even though they might guess what the outcome could be.
However, once the outcome is known, people are overcome with this feeling of ‘I knew it’, in the sense that they forget all about the uncertainty that they harbored before and they only concentrate on this feeling that they had known what was going to happen.
Thus, in a way, it is a prophesy… after it has happened; saying that it was pretty obvious something was going to happen, after it has happened.
Psychologists say that hindsight bias works on 3 levels. In the first, there is memory distortion, in which a person distorts and wrongly remembers an opinion or judgment from earlier (I said it will happen).
In the second, the person believes that the event was inevitable (It had to happen).
In the third, the predictability is further enhanced by the fact that the event could have been foreseen by him/her (I knew it would happen).
Experiment Conducted by Bolt and Brink
An experiment was conducted by psychologists Martin Bolt and John Brink in 1991 to illustrate the phenomenon of hindsight bias. Students from Calvin college were asked to predict the U. S.
Senate vote on Supreme Court nominee, Clarence Thomas. 58% of the students predicted that he would be approved.
A week after Thomas’s confirmation, these students were asked to recall what they had predicted, and it was found that 78% of students said that they were sure he would be approved.
The discrepancy in the poll results from before and after the vote proved that when one is faced with the final results, the outcome suddenly seems predictable and obvious. Not only that, the person is also overcome with the feeling that he had predicted the result all along.
Effects of the Bias
Harboring the hindsight bias can have a negative effect on the many facets of a person’s life, in majority, those that have to do with decision-making.
A person who is prone to this bias might have a false sense of superiority, an overestimation of his intelligence or a false overconfidence about the effectiveness of his thoughts and decisions.
This then propels him to take risky and ill-informed decisions which may have disastrous effects― in business, or medical practice, or even a jury’s judgments about a defendant’s past conduct.
This bias also encourages the tendency in a person to blame others (if he had done this, this would not have happened), which is really quite reminiscent of a victim mentality, if one deems to see it that way.
Furthermore, the hindsight bias allows a person to accept things at the surface level without conducting more research or going deeper into the subject, or being open to the fact that there might be alternatives to a situation, thereby promoting a very narrow and limited view of the world.
Hindsight Bias Examples
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Peruse through these following hindsight bias examples in different forms in society, in the media, in sports, and in movies.
► A guy bets on a horse who is form at the race course with the off chance that he might win. The horse ends up winning, and the guy is convinced that he was totally sure about him winning and that he had predicted it.
► During the soccer finals, 2 friends bet that one team will win, while 1 bets that the other team will win because ‘he has a hunch’, though in his mind, he knows that it could go either way. When the other team does win, he gloats about the fact that he knew it all along.
► A friend applies to a college. One week before he is to hear from them, he says that he has a good feeling he might get through, but he also applies to other colleges ‘just in case’.
When he does, in fact, get accepted into the college he wanted to get in, he forgets all about the other applications and harps on the fact that he was totally sure about getting in, that he had predicted it right from the start.
► While leaving for a trip, you’re constantly afflicted with the thought that you’re going to leave something behind.
When you reach your destination, you really do find that you left something behind.
You then draw perverse pleasure from the fact that you knew it all along, even though you were not sure what it was that you forgot, and the absence of which is going to lead to discomfort.
► A couple who are always fighting end up getting divorced, to which a colleague says he always knew they would split, and then proceeds to gloat in the fact.
Hindsight bias fuels the human tendency to find something familiar and predictable in a world guided by the unknown. When we are able to find closure in things, instead of letting them have loose ends, we are able to function well.
Which is why, we immediately tend to draw similarities when faced with new information and draw conclusions whereby the new becomes predictable. Even though this bias gives us a grandiose sense of self (which fuels our ego, so to say), it is usually a false self-image, which only hampers our mental growth and decision-making abilities.
Which is why, there is a need to deliberately reject our tendency to adhere to this bias and allow more possibilities and alternate endings to make way.