Surya and Saumya have planned to go on a picnic. Even though it’s sunny outside, Surya suggests carrying an umbrella. But Saumya reads aloud the weather forecast and convinces him to carry shades and sunscreen instead. A few hours later, it starts pouring. Surya turns to Saumya and says, “I knew this was going to happen!”
In this instance, did Surya really know that it was going to rain? He had a gut feeling but he didn’t know it was going to rain unless it actually did. Surya’s hindsight bias gave him the confidence to make such a claim. Want to learn more about this phenomenon? Read on!
Hindsight Bias: Boon Or Bane?
At its simplest, hindsight bias refers to the tendency of viewing events as more predictable than they are. It’s also known as the ‘I knew it all along’ phenomenon, where you overestimate your ability to predict the outcome. You look back in time and see events as more predictable than they had appeared. While it can be flattering to see that our judgment is better than what we’d expected, hindsight bias has its limitations.
You need to be especially careful about biases in workplace settings. It may end up negatively impacting your professional reputation.
Here are the major drawbacks of hindsight bias:
It causes memory distortion as you may misremember information. In a way, you rewrite history and revise the probability, which leads to poor judgment.
It can make you overconfident. Because you’ve predicted past events correctly, you may feel that you can predict future scenarios with as much success.
It pushes us to focus only on a single explanation of a situation, overlooking truth and objectivity. We become dismissive of alternate views or options.
There is no accountability for our actions because we are too dependable on hindsight bias. We blame everything on external factors and excuse ourselves by saying that the situation was beyond our control.
If any of your personal opinions get confirmed, then it’s almost impossible to change your mind about something.
Unraveling The Hindsight Bias Psychology
If you want to gain a deeper understanding, here are some examples of hindsight bias in the workplace that’ll highlight its shortcomings.
Imagine that you’re a hiring manager at an organization. You believe that hiring potential employees from top schools will be advantageous for your organization because such candidates will be more hardworking and productive. Whenever someone with a good academic background performs well, your hindsight bias will continue to interfere with future hiring decisions.
Suppose you’ve recently been promoted to the position of manager. You’re afraid of delegating responsibilities to your new team because the ultimate responsibility rests on your shoulders. If someone makes a mistake, you’ll only become more controlling and try to micromanage everybody.
Overcoming Hindsight Bias In Decision-Making
The hindsight bias psychology limits our learning as it prevents us from recognizing and learning from our mistakes. It’s impossible to completely eliminate hindsight bias in decision-making, which is why you need to find effective ways and monitor your actions.
Here’s how you can effectively deal with hindsight bias:
There Is No Magic Crystal
The first step for challenging your hindsight bias is to accept the fact that you can’t predict the future. Even if something has led to a desirable outcome in the past, it doesn’t mean that those events will lead to successful outcomes in the future. Treat every situation independently and let go of the past.
Be Critical & Examine
Always base your decisions on what the data has to say. Never make assumptions because you ‘have a strong feeling’ about something. This way, you’ll always have credible sources to fall back on and you’ll be objective in your judgment.
Record & Reflect
As we’ve already established, hindsight bias encourages you to revise or misremember information. If you want to accurately reflect on a decision, it’s best to document your thoughts before you know about the outcome. You can even list the factors influencing your choices and revisit them to check how accurate you may or may not be.
What’s On The Other Side?
The desirable outcome may just be a coincidence. If you want to stay rooted in reality and gain a more balanced view of the situation, write down the alternative outcomes. By analyzing alternative outcomes, you’re better equipped to challenge your biases and stay open-minded.
Trust The Process
We often try to avoid situations because of negative outcomes in the past. For example, you may not want to prepare for the law examination because you’ve already appeared twice and failed it. If your decisions are solely based on outcomes, then you may miss out on learning opportunities. Don’t be afraid to give yourself a second or even a third chance.
Think Critically, Challenge Biases
If you want to prevent your internal biases to interfere with your decision-making skills, it’s time for you to embrace Harappa Education’s Thinking Critically course. There are powerful frameworks in this course that will teach you how to separate facts from opinions and make insightful observations. Learn how to connect the dots through careful consideration of data and land on well-reasoned evaluations. Move beyond the “I always knew it” feeling!
Explore topics such as Critical Thinking, Types of Thinking, Examples of Critical Thinking & How to Improve Your Critical Thinking from Harappa Diaries and enhance the ability to think clearly and rationally.
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