A retrieval-based approach to eliminating hindsight bias

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Individuals exhibit hindsight bias when they are unable to recall their original responses to novel questions after correct answers are provided to them. Prior studies have eliminated hindsight bias by modifying the conditions under which original judgments or correct answers are encoded. Here, we explored whether hindsight bias can be eliminated by manipulating the conditions that hold at retrieval. Our retrieval-based approach predicts that if the conditions at retrieval enable sufficient discrimination of memory representations of original judgments from memory representations of correct answers, then hindsight bias will be reduced or eliminated. Experiment 1 used the standard memory design to replicate the hindsight bias effect in middle-school students. Experiments 2 and 3 modified the retrieval phase of this design, instructing participants beforehand that they would be recalling both their original judgments and the correct answers. As predicted, this enabled participants to form compound retrieval cues that discriminated original judgment traces from correct answer traces, and eliminated hindsight bias. Experiment 4 found that when participants were not instructed beforehand that they would be making both recalls, they did not form discriminating retrieval cues, and hindsight bias returned. These experiments delineate the retrieval conditions that produce—and fail to produce—hindsight bias.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)377-390
Number of pages14
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 16 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by a University of Minnesota Grant-in-Aid awarded to Keisha Varma.


  • Hindsight bias
  • RAFT
  • SARA
  • long-term working memory
  • retrieval-based approach

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