Hindsight bias: a by-product of knowledge updating?

J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn. 2000 May;26(3):566-81. doi: 10.1037//0278-7393.26.3.566.


With the benefit of feedback about the outcome of an event, people's recalled judgments are typically closer to the outcome of the event than their original judgments were. It has been suggested that this hindsight bias may be due to a reconstruction process of the prior judgment. A model of such a process is proposed that assumes that knowledge is updated after feedback and that reconstruction is based on the updated knowledge. Consistent with the model's predictions, the results of 2 studies show that knowledge after feedback is systematically shifted toward feedback, and that assisting retrieval of the knowledge prior to feedback reduces hindsight bias. In addition, the model accounts for about 75% of cases in which either hindsight bias or reversed hindsight bias occurred. The authors conclude that hindsight bias can be understood as a by-product of an adaptive process, namely the updating of knowledge after feedback.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cues
  • Feedback*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Judgment*
  • Knowledge of Results, Psychological*
  • Male
  • Memory
  • Mental Recall*
  • Models, Psychological