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5 Examples of Hindsight Bias

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Hindsight bias is a common tendency to view the past as more predictable than it was at the time. The following are illustrative examples.

Decision Making

A hindsight bias causes individuals to overestimate the quality of decisions that had positive outcomes and underestimate the quality of decisions that had negative outcomes. If a student quits a prestigious university and ends up founding a multi-billion dollar company this decision may appear to be far more intelligent than it actually was at the time. If an employee quits a startup that goes on to make all of its early employees extremely wealth, this decision may be viewed as more irrational than it actually was given the information available to the employee at the time.


Hindsight bias can work against the defense in a trial as a judge and jury may view negative outcomes as more obvious and preventable than they actually were at the time of an incident. For example, a defendant who is charged with involuntary manslaughter may have had only a few seconds to prevent an accident that was their fault. With the benefit of hindsight, a jury may overestimate the neglect that occurred during this timeframe.


A tendency to view the innovations of the past as less inventive and more obvious than they were at the time. For example, a film with innovative cinematography that wows audiences of its day may be viewed by future audiences as nothing special because the technique may be copied by a large number of films with time.

Knew it All Along

It is common for people to overestimate their foreknowledge of an event. For example, a stock trader may think that a crash is coming at least once a week for 9 years. When a crash does finally occur, the trader may believe that they knew it. This is a common phenomenon that can cause overconfidence as an individual may begin to overestimate their talent, insight or perhaps start to believe that they can predict the future with some accuracy.

Chronological Snobbery

Chronological snobbery is the view that people of the past were irrational and ignorant. This is influenced by hindsight bias as the decisions of the past may appear to be foolish when there were reasonable at the time given their historical context.
Overview: Hindsight Bias
A common tendency to view the past as more predictable than it was at the time.
Related Concepts

Cognitive Biases

This is the complete list of articles we have written about cognitive biases.
Ambiguity Effect
Backfire Effect
Base Rate
Circular Reasoning
Cognitive Bias
Cognitive Dissonance
Complexity Bias
Crab Mentality
Creeping Normality
Curse Of Knowledge
Decoy Effect
Exposure Effect
False Analogy
False Hope
Fear Of Youth
Gambler's Fallacy
Golden Hammer
Halo Effect
Hindsight Bias
Negativity Bias
Optimism Bias
Peak-End Rule
Positive Bias
Sour Grapes
Survivorship Bias
Us vs Them
Victim Mentality
Wishful Thinking
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Cognitive Biases

A list of common cognitive biases explained.


The definition of scientism with examples.


The definition of pessimism with examples.


The definition of groupthink with examples.


The definition of overconfidence with examples.

Cherry Picking

The definition of cherry picking with examples.


The definition of presentism with examples.

Decision Quality

The definition of decision quality with examples.


A list of approaches for establishing facts.

Faulty Reasoning

A list of common logical errors.

Begging The Question

The definition of begging the question with examples.
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