Age differences in hindsight bias: A meta-analysis

Julia Groß, Thorsten Pachur

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


After people have learned a fact or the outcome of an event, they often overestimate their ability to have known the correct answer beforehand. This hindsight bias has two sources: An impairment in direct recall of the original (i.e., uninformed) judgment after presentation of the correct answer (recollection bias) and a reconstruction of the original judgment that is biased toward the correct answer (reconstruction bias). Research on how cognitive aging affects these two sources of hindsight bias has produced mixed results. To synthesize the available findings, we conducted a meta-analysis of nine studies (N = 366 young, N = 368 older adults). We isolated the probabilities of recollection, recollection bias, and reconstruction bias with a Bayesian, three-level hierarchical implementation of the multinomial processing tree model of hindsight bias (Erdfelder & Buchner, 1998). Additionally, we quantified the magnitude of bias in the reconstructed judgment. Overall, older adults were less likely to recollect their original judgment than young adults, and thus had to reconstruct it more frequently. Importantly, whereas outcome knowledge impaired recollection of the original judgment (i.e., recollection bias) to a similar extent in both age groups, outcome knowledge was more likely to distort reconstruction of the original judgment (i.e., reconstruction bias) in older adults. In addition, the magnitude of bias in the reconstructed judgments was slightly larger in older than in young adults. Our results provide the basis for a targeted investigation of the mechanisms driving these age differences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)294-310
Number of pages17
JournalPsychology and Aging
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Aging
  • Hindsight bias
  • Meta-analysis
  • Multinomial processing tree models


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