Effect of Hindsight Bias and Prevention Material on Post-Traumatic Guilt

Date of Graduation

Spring 2006


Master of Science in Psychology



Committee Chair

David Lutz


The current study tested the multidimensional model of Post-traumatic Guilt as suggested by Kubany, Watson, Leisen, and Kaplan (2005). The model was tested by altering the measure of hindsight bias to more stringently test prior findings using the traditional hindsight bias paradigm (Fischoff, 1975). In addition measures of traumatic life events will be used to examine prior exposure and investigate those at –risk for PTSD symptoms. A sample of 300 undergraduate students was recruited from psychology courses to serve as research participants. Participants were randomly assigned into one of four conditions. In each condition students read a short scenario depicting a traumatic event, completed a revised version of the Trauma-Related Guilt Inventory (TRGI; Kubandy, et al., 1996) to assess their level of guilt, and completed a short questionnaire assess hindsight bias. Participants also filled out the Traumatic Life Events Questionnaire (TLEQ), a survey of past traumatic experiences (Kubany, et al., 2000). Those in the hindsight conditions were given the outcome of the scenario prior to completing the TRGI and making outcome predictions. Those in the foresight conditions were not given the outcome prior to making these ratings. Half of all participants received materials on how the traumatic even could have been prevented. The results were analyzed using a One-way ANOVA. Findings suggest that hindsight and prevention materials do have a significant effect on the participants’ subjective ratings on guilt (F, (3.261) = 9.06, p <.001).


guilt, hindsight bias, trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder, prior trauma

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© Meagan L. Howell