Assessing the Evidence for Outcome Bias and Hindsight Bias

Mikkel Gerken*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Abstract Outcome bias and hindsight bias are important in philosophical debates and have wide-ranging implications outside of philosophy. Recently, Hedden has articulated a novel line of argumnt that the empirical evidence for what he labels hindsight bias is largely misguided and that empirical researchers who postulate such a bias are engaged in a fallacy fallacy. In this paper, I articulate Hedden’s core insights in terms of two principles and argue that in the relevant empirical research, these principles are often (i) recognized, (ii) invoked in theoretical explanation, and (iii) guiding study designs and interpretation of data. On this basis, I argue that there is ample empirical evidence for outcome and hindsight bias and that cognitive psychologists do not generally exhibit a fallacy fallacy of postulating such biases in cases where there are none. More constructively, the present paper articulates some general principles that help us to better understand when an empirical study provides evidence of these types of bias. Thus, the debate casts light on both the specific evidence for outcome and hindsight bias but also on the general division of labor between philosophy and psychology.
Original languageEnglish
JournalReview of Philosophy and Psychology
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)237-252
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2024

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