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Dr Hartmut Blank

Associate Head (Research)

Relations

Biography

I joined the department in 2005. In 1991 Diploma in Psychology and 1995 Dr. rer soc. (in Psychology), both University of Konstanz (Germany); 1996 – 2005 Assistent / Oberassistent (Lecturer / Senior Lecturer) in Social Psychology, University of Leipzig (Germany); 2002 Habilitation (Dr. rer soc. habil.) and Privatdozent in Psychology.

Research Interests

My research interests have so far clustered around memory, cognition and social psychology, including implications for forensic settings. Most of my work is in two research areas:

Hindsight bias: After the event (or after having learned a new fact), we’re not only wiser but also often fall prey to the illusion that this was knowable before, with subtle but important consequences for learning from experience, decision making and judging others’ decisions and actions: If I believe that I knew something all along, why would I take reality feedback on board? If I think that others should have foreseen a negative outcome, I might be more likely to blame them for it, etc. Over the last ten years or so, colleagues and I (see publications below) have been exploring the idea that hindsight bias is not as simple a phenomenon as often thought (or indeed not a singular phenomenon at all) but consists of three separate aspects that follow different laws and serve different psychological functions. Hopefully, this will lead to a better understanding of hindsight bias and its implications in different areas.

Remembering (incl. social influence): Memory is for most practical purposes what you make of it – how you use memory to answer questions, or arrive at beliefs, about past events. This has both a quantitative (how much?) and a qualitative aspect (accuracy, distortion, adaptation to audiences etc.), and part of what determines the remembering is social influence. My interest in this is both in terms of theoretical analysis and empirical demonstrations of the variability of remembering (for instance, the reversibility of eyewitness memory distortions caused by misleading post-event information).

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