Motivational interpretations of hindsight bias: An individual difference analysis

Authors


Requests for reprints should be sent to Jennifer Campbell, Department of Psychology, The University of British Columbia, 154—2053 Main Mall, Vancouver, B.C. V6T 1Y7.

Abstract

When individuals learn the outcome of an event or the correct answer to a question, they overestimate its prior predictability: that is, they tend to believe they “knew it all along.” Cognitive and motivational interpretations of hindsight bias are briefly reviewed and a study designed to test the motivational interpretation is reported. Specifically, it was hypothesized that individual differences in the strengths of two motives, a need for predictability and a self-presentation motive, should be positively related to individual differences in the magnitude of hindsight bias. Sixty-eight subjects completed a Dogmatism Scale and an Intolerance for Ambiguity Scale (the predictability motive) and the Marlowe-Crowne Social Desirability Scale (the self-presentation motive) before participating in a standard hindsight-bias paradigm. Measures of both motives, as well as a self-reported ego-involvement measure, were positively associated with the amount of hindsight bias exhibited. Implications of this result for interpretations of hindsight and other conceptually related phenomena are discussed.

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