The hindsight bias is the tendency for people with outcome knowledge to believe falsely that they would have predicted the reported outcome of an event. This article reviews empirical research relevant to hindsight phenomena. The influence of outcome knowledge, termed creeping determinism, was initially hypothesized to result from the immediate and automatic integration of the outcome into a person’s knowledge of an event. Later research has identified at least 4 plausible, general strategies for responding to hindsight questions. These explanations postulate that outcome information affects the selection of evidence to make a judgment, the evidence evaluation, the manner in which evidence is integrated, or the response generation process. It is also likely, in some situations, that a combination of 2 or more of these mechanisms produces the observed hindsight effects. We provide an interpretation of the creeping determinism hypothesis in terms of inferences made to reevaluate case-specific evidence once the relevant outcome is known and conclude that it is the most common mechanism underlying observed hindsight effects.
Hawkins, S. A., & Hastie, R. (1990). Hindsight: Biased judgments of past events after the outcomes are known. Psychological Bulletin, 107(3), 311-327.