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I'm not trying to impress you, but I surely knew it all along! Self-presentation and hindsight bias

Rüdiger F. Pohl (), Dagmar Stahlberg () and Dieter Frey ()
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Rüdiger F. Pohl: Fachbereich 06 der Justus-Liebig-Universität Giessen, Postal: Otto-Behaghel-Str. 10, 35394 Giessen
Dagmar Stahlberg: Lehrstuhl fuer Sozialpsychologie, Sonderforschungsbereich 504, Postal: Seminargebaeude A5, D-68131 Mannheim
Dieter Frey: Institut fuer Psychologie der Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet Muenchen, Postal: Leopoldstrasse 13, 80802 Muenchen

No 99-19, Sonderforschungsbereich 504 Publications from Sonderforschungsbereich 504, Universität Mannheim, Sonderforschungsbereich 504, University of Mannheim

Abstract: In hindsight, people tend to overestimate what they had known in foresight. Two experiments tested whether this bias is due or at least moderated by the self-presentation motive. In Experiment 1, 165 participants received seven problem cases with two possible outcomes and supporting arguments each. All participants rated the importance of the arguments, made a decision and rated their confidence in this decision. Later they were asked to recall these judgments. A strong hindsight bias emerged in all three measures when the correct outcomes were given. Additional public-private manipulations regarding the recall and/or the presentation of one's original judgments did not show the hypothesized effects on hindsight bias that were expected if self-presentation motives would have been effective. Experiment 2 used 30 true and 30 wrong assertions. All 57 participants were asked to indicate whether an assertion was true or not and what their confidence was. Later they were asked to recall these judgments. Again, a strong hindsight bias occurred when the true solutions were given. An additional manipulation informed the participants in one group that we would closely compare their recalled with their original judgments (so that hindsight bias should be reduced) and in another group that the original judgments had been surprisingly good (so that hindsight bias should be enlarged). However, hindsight bias was equally strong in both groups. Moreover, the correlation between the individual social desirability and the amount of hindsight bias was not significantly different from zero. In sum, the results from both experiments clearly argue against an impact of the self-presentation motive on hindsight bias.

Pages: 29 pages
Date: 1999-03-23
Note: Financial Support from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, SFB 504, at the University of Mannheim, is gratefully acknowledged.
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