Common sayings about psychology are often a result of the hindsight bias

  • Exposing the hindsight bias is pretty easy with an example presented in "Book - You are not so smart" by David McRaney
  • Consider this study:
    • A recent study by researchers at Harvard shows as people grow older they tend to stick to old beliefs and find it difficult to accept conflicting information about topics they are already familiar with. The findings seem to suggest you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
  • Then, consider this study:
    • A study out of the University of Alberta shows older people, with years of wisdom and a virtual library of facts from decades of exposure to media, find it much easier to finish a four-year degree ahead of time than an eighteen-year-old who has to contend with an unfinished, still-growing brain. The findings show you are never too old to learn.
  • Depending on which of those you present first, the audience will think "well of course, this is common knowledge". However, both of these studies are made up.
  • This phenomenon is know as the hindsight bias: People overestimate their judgment on a situation after knowing the outcomePeople overestimate their judgment on a situation after knowing the outcome
    After being presented with the outcome, people are overly confident in their ability to predict this specific outcome. This is commonly referred to as "Hindsight Bias"

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  • Most common sayings are results of this bias. Their value thereby only seems to lie in "explaining" occurring phenomena, but they are of little use when it comes to predicting the outcome of a situation. This separates them from scientific hypotheses, which aim to combine both of these.