Date of Graduation

Fall 2016


Master of Science in Psychology



Committee Chair

David J. Lutz


Hindsight bias has been operationally defined as "…the tendency for people with outcome knowledge (hindsight) to believe falsely that they would have predicted the reported outcome of an event" (Hawkins and Hastie, 1990, pg. 311). The role of empathy in hindsight bias has not received systematic attention. Previous research has shown that giving participants prevention information increased hindsight bias (Kubany, 2005). Thus, the current study hypothesized that hindsight participants placed in empathic situations should show greater probability judgments for the outcome than hindsight participants in no empathic conditions, and both should be greater than participants in foresight conditions. Participants were 166 male and female college students recruited from Introductory Psychology classes at a Midwestern university. For the current study, the empathy manipulation did not produce significant results. This could be due to the story content, the empathy induction method, or the time of the empathy assessment. Overall, no effect for hindsight bias was demonstrated. The empathy manipulation was not shown to be effective nor did the prevention information appear to increase levels of Hindsight Bias/Responsibility. These results, which contradict previous research, indicate need for further exploration of hindsight bias, which could impact therapist effectiveness and the symptom severity of mental health diagnoses.


hindsight bias, empathy, foresight, retroactive pessimism, vicarious traumatization

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© Malindi Jeri Gowen

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