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I'm not trying to impress you, but I surely knew it all along! Self-presentation and hindsight bias


  • Pohl, Rüdiger F.

    () (Fachbereich 06 der Justus-Liebig-Universität Giessen)

  • Stahlberg, Dagmar

    () (Lehrstuhl fuer Sozialpsychologie, Sonderforschungsbereich 504)

  • Frey, Dieter

    () (Institut fuer Psychologie der Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet Muenchen)


In hindsight, people tend to overestimate what they had known in foresight. Two experiments tested whether this bias is due or at least moderated by the self-presentation motive. In Experiment 1, 165 participants received seven problem cases with two possible outcomes and supporting arguments each. All participants rated the importance of the arguments, made a decision and rated their confidence in this decision. Later they were asked to recall these judgments. A strong hindsight bias emerged in all three measures when the correct outcomes were given. Additional public-private manipulations regarding the recall and/or the presentation of one's original judgments did not show the hypothesized effects on hindsight bias that were expected if self-presentation motives would have been effective. Experiment 2 used 30 true and 30 wrong assertions. All 57 participants were asked to indicate whether an assertion was true or not and what their confidence was. Later they were asked to recall these judgments. Again, a strong hindsight bias occurred when the true solutions were given. An additional manipulation informed the participants in one group that we would closely compare their recalled with their original judgments (so that hindsight bias should be reduced) and in another group that the original judgments had been surprisingly good (so that hindsight bias should be enlarged). However, hindsight bias was equally strong in both groups. Moreover, the correlation between the individual social desirability and the amount of hindsight bias was not significantly different from zero. In sum, the results from both experiments clearly argue against an impact of the self-presentation motive on hindsight bias.

Suggested Citation

  • Pohl, Rüdiger F. & Stahlberg, Dagmar & Frey, Dieter, 1999. "I'm not trying to impress you, but I surely knew it all along! Self-presentation and hindsight bias," Sonderforschungsbereich 504 Publications 99-19, Sonderforschungsbereich 504, Universität Mannheim;Sonderforschungsbereich 504, University of Mannheim.
  • Handle: RePEc:xrs:sfbmaa:99-19 Note: Financial Support from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, SFB 504, at the University of Mannheim, is gratefully acknowledged.

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Sikandar Siddiqui, 1997. "The pension incentive to retire: Empirical evidence for West Germany," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 10(4), pages 463-486.
    2. Schnabel, Reinhold, 1998. "Vermögen und Ersparnis im Lebenszyklus in Westdeutschland," Sonderforschungsbereich 504 Publications 99-43, Sonderforschungsbereich 504, Universität Mannheim;Sonderforschungsbereich 504, University of Mannheim.
    3. Borsch-Supan, Axel & Schnabel, Reinhold, 1998. "Social Security and Declining Labor-Force Participation in Germany," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 173-178, May.
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