(Science 2.0) "The worst call in Super Bowl history," read a headline in my hometown Seattle Times after Seahawks' head coach Pete Carroll seemingly threw the game away with his ill-fated decision to pass – rather than run – as the game clock expired.
Actually, Carroll made two end-of-half decisions in Sunday's Super Bowl, both questioned by the NBC announcers. The differing outcomes of the decisions – and the resulting reactions by pundits and fans – offer potent examples of a mental pitfall that has been the subject of roughly 800 psychological science publications.
"Hindsight bias," also known as the "I knew it all along phenomenon," is the almost irresistible tendency to believe – after an experiment, a war, an election, or an investment – that the outcome was foreseeable. After the stock market drops (it "was due for a correction") or an election is lost (by a "terrible candidate"), the outcome seems obvious – and thus blameworthy.
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