Creeping determinism, a form of hindsight bias, refers to people's hindsight perceptions of events as being determined or inevitable. This article proposes, on the basis of a causal-model theory of creeping determinism, that the underlying processes are effortful, and hence creeping determinism should disappear when individuals lack the cognitive resources to make sense of an outcome. In Experiments 1 and 2, participants were asked to read a scenario while they were under either low or high processing load. Participants who had the cognitive resources to make sense of the outcome perceived it as more probable and necessary than did participants under high processing load or participants who did not receive outcome information. Experiment 3 was designed to separate 2 postulated subprocesses and showed that the attenuating effect of processing load on hindsight bias is not due to a disruption of the retrieval of potential causal antecedents but to a disruption of their evaluation. Together the 3 experiments show that the processes underlying creeping determinism are effortful, and they highlight the crucial role of causal reasoning in the perception of past events.
|Number of pages
|Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition
|Published - Sept 2008