What is hindsight bias?
The saying hindsight is 20/20 is actually wrong. You may think you knew the outcome would happen as it did. In actual fact, you did not. Looking back, it may feel as if you knew, but that is only because it was after the fact. This is known as Hindsight Bias.
This bias can affect various aspects of our daily lives. For example, maybe you did not study well enough for an exam and you thought you would do badly. You get the results and end up doing well and think to yourself “oh I knew I would not fail”. This bias like the others also affects decision making. Clearly, it is something that affects many aspects of our lives and it is important to understand how manifests itself and what we can do to change that.
What problems does hindsight bias cause?
Hindsight bias does not allow us to learn from our past experiences well. This is because we become less accountable for our decisions, less critical of ourselves and in our ability to make decisions. For example, when we are over-confident and do not realize that we actually were making significant misjudgments. Another problem that arises due to hindsight bias, is inaccuracy with predictions.
Hindsight bias causes us to focus intensely on one explanation for a situation, regardless of the truth. Hindsight bias can blind us to alternative explanations and cause us to develop tunnel vision. We ignore the evidence and data we have.
Protecting against hindsight bias
The best way to protect against hindsight bias is by disciplining ourselves to make explicit predictions with facts. This way, if there are individuals who want to challenge our predictions because they did not turn out right we can show what our predictions were based on.
Consider alternative outcomes to gain a more balanced view of the situation.
Keep notes about your decisions. This would help you can steer clear of those dreaded rewrites.
In the end, rely less on your gut feeling and look more to concrete evidence you have when making decisions.