When debiasing backfires: Accessible content and accessibility experiences in debiasing hindsight

Two studies demonstrated that attempts to debias hindsight by thinking about alternative outcomes may backfire and traced this to the influence of subjective accessibility experiences. Participants listed either few (2) or many (10) thoughts about how an event might have turned out otherwise. Listing many counterfactual thoughts was experienced as difficult and consistently increased the hindsight bias, presumably because the experienced difficulty suggested that there were not many ways in which the event might have turned out otherwise. No significant hindsight effects were obtained when participants listed only a few counterfactual thoughts, a task subjectively experienced as easy. The interplay of accessible content and subjective accessibility experiences in the hindsight bias is discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2007 APA, all rights reserved) (from the journal abstract)