Rapid recollection of foresight judgments increases hindsight bias in a memory design

J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn. 2013 May;39(3):959-64. doi: 10.1037/a0028579. Epub 2012 May 14.


One component of hindsight bias is memory distortion. This component is measured with a memory design, in which individuals answer questions, learn the correct answers, and recall their original answers. Hindsight bias occurs when participants' recollections are closer to the correct answers than their original judgments actually were. The present study used a memory design to examine the relationship between response time in recalling original answers and the magnitude of hindsight bias. In Experiment 1, participants' response times were negatively correlated with a hindsight bias index. In Experiment 2, half of the participants were instructed to recall their original judgments quickly and the other participants were instructed to take time to recall their judgments. The hindsight bias index was greater among rapidly responding participants than among delayed responding participants. These results, in conjunction with other findings, support a separate components view of hindsight bias. The memory distortion component of hindsight bias appears to occur quickly, and unbiased responding requires time for processing. This finding relates the memory distortion component of hindsight bias to other cognitive biases, such as the belief bias in syllogistic reasoning. The relationship of this hindsight bias component to dual-process models of cognition is discussed, and several avenues for additional research are suggested.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Bias*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Judgment / physiology*
  • Male
  • Mental Recall / physiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Psychological
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Young Adult