Controllability and hindsight components: understanding opposite hindsight biases for self-relevant negative event outcomes

Hartmut Blank, J. Peters

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Abstract

There is an anomaly in the hindsight bias literature with respect to hindsight effects obtained after self-relevant negative event outcomes: Whereas some studies have reported reduced hindsight bias, others have shown increases. This article contrasts two explanations for the anomaly. The first points to an influence of perceived control over the event outcome: In hindsight, people decrease foreseeability (and hence, responsibility and blame) for controllable events, but they increase the perceived inevitability of uncontrollable events for coping reasons. The second explanation, derived from a reconception of hindsight bias in terms of separate components (Blank, Nestler, von Collani, & Fischer, 2008), traces the anomaly to differences in the observed hindsight components: Hindsight decreases are to be expected for foreseeability, whereas increases are restricted to the inevitability component. Our experiment (N 5 210) manipulated controllability and the hindsight component orthogonally and showed strong support for the component explanation, but also some influence of perceived control.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)356-365
Number of pages10
JournalMemory and Cognition
Volume38
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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