Hindsight bias and causal attribution: a causal model theory of creeping determinism

S. Nestler, Hartmut Blank, G. Von Collani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Hindsight bias describes characteristic changes in the perceptions of events or facts once their outcomes are known. This article focuses on one important facet of this, named creeping determinism, denoting enhanced hindsight perceptions of the inevitability of event outcomes. We suggest a systematic link between the literatures on causal attribution and hindsight bias/creeping determinism and introduce a comprehensive causal model theory (CMT) of creeping determinism. We then distinguish between two alternative versions of CMT, which reflect recent debates in the causal attribution literature. These versions assume, respectively, that individuals make causal attributions by means of covariation analysis or via the discovery of some underlying mechanism. In order to contrast these assumptions, we introduce a new hypothesis concerning the magnitude of creeping determinism, based on the conjunction effect in causal attribution, and we present empirical evidence concerning this hypothesis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)182-188
Number of pages7
JournalSocial Psychology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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