Metacognitive Experiences and Human Judgment: The Case of Hindsight Bias and Its Debiasing

Theories of judgment have emphasized the influence of what comes to mind–the content of people's thoughts. But recent research shows that metacognitive experiences accompanying thinking, like a sense of the ease or difficulty with which information comes to mind, qualify the conclusions that people derive from thought content. The case of hindsight bias and attempts to remove that bias (debiasing) illustrate this. After an event outcome is known, people display hindsight bias by exaggerating its inevitability, believing they “knew it all along.” The magnitude of hindsight bias varies with the ease or difficulty that known or alternative outcomes come to mind; the usually observed hindsight bias may even reverse when outcomes are difficult to bring to mind or increase when alternatives are difficult to bring to mind. Implications of metacognitive experiences can extend to other biases and their debiasing, as well as to how people make sense of the past more generally. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2007 APA, all rights reserved) (from the journal abstract)