A mission call finally arrives, and someone says they knew the person was going there. A favorite team loses, and someone knew the team would lose. Corrections on a big project leave a new employee thinking they should have done it that way the first time.
Hindsight bias is when a person sees the result of an event and becomes convinced they knew the outcome all along. Jacqueline Andros, a recent graduate of BYU, studied hindsight bias for her honors thesis while taking a behavioral economics class in London. As a part of her thesis, Andros designed a survey to determine more specifics of hindsight bias.
Joe Price is an economics professor at BYU and Andros’ advisor. He said this was a relatively unstudied topic.
“I was excited about it,” Price said. “I think we have found gender bias in a lot of ways.”
Andros’ study consisted of surveys with true/false questions. After she finished the first survey, Andros distributed the correct answers and asked participants to duplicate their original answers.
“While many had trouble recalling their first predictions, men were more than twice as likely to believe they’d initially given the right answers when they actually hadn’t,” a news release said.
Reactions to this outcome are relatively uniform. Most people, regardles of gender, accepted the results.
“I’m a guy, and I can see myself doing that,” said Jon Bradshaw, 23, an exercise science major from Salt Lake City. “I think guys in general like to be in control and be right.”
Micheal Christensen, 22, a neuroscience major from Provo, agreed with Bradshaw.
“Guys can be prideful,” Christensen said. “I have lots of friends who would say something like that.”
Andros said that despite the outcome of the study, this does not necessarily reflect negatively on men.
“I wouldn’t say it’s good or bad; it’s human nature,” Andros said.
The overall feedback has been positive, according to Andros.
“Most of the people who participated thought it was interesting,” Andros said. “My honors thesis committee thought it was legit.”
Andros graduated with honors and is currently working as an analyst at an economic consulting firm. Graduate school may be on the horizon eventually. She said although her research on hindsight bias was enjoyable, it is not something she will continue at the moment.
“I do think behavioral economics is an interesting field, but I’m not in the position to (continue research) right now,” Andros said.
Whether it’s a mission call, a sporting event, or a writing assignment, hindsight bias is there. Future studies may determine the extent to which it affects genders, but then again, someone might just say they already knew it.