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A cross-cultural study of hindsight bias and conditional probabilistic reasoning

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Hindsight bias is a mistaken belief that one could have predicted a given outcome once the outcome is known. Choi and Nisbett (2000) reported that Koreans showed stronger hindsight bias than Americans, and explained the results using the distinction between analytic cognition (Westerners) and holistic cognition (Easterners). The purpose of the present study was to see whether hindsight bias is stronger among Easterners than among Westerners using a probability judgement task, and to test an “explicit-implicit” hypothesis and a “rule-dialectics” hypothesis. We predicted that the implicit process is more active among Easterners to generate hindsight bias, and that Easterners are more dialectical thinkers, whereas Westerners are more rule-based thinkers. French, British, Japanese, and Korean participants were asked to make probabilistic judgements in a Good Samaritan scenario (Experiment 1) and in a scenario including conditional probabilistic judgement (Experiment 2). In both Experiments, we presume that the implicit revision of causal models is made just by being given unexpected outcome information, and that explicit revision is made by being asked to point out possible factors for an unexpected outcome. In the results Easterners showed greater hindsight bias generally and it was greater in the Good Samaritan scenario. We conclude that the reason why hindsight bias was lower among Westerners is primarily that they tried to follow a rule to suppress the bias.

Keywords: Analytic cognition; Cultural difference; Hindsight bias; Holistic cognition; Probabilistic reasoning

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13546783.2010.526786

Affiliations: 1: Kobe College, Nishinomiya, Japan 2: University of Wolverhampton, Wolverhampton, UK 3: University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA 4: Institut de Sciences Cognitives, Bron, France 5: Sung Kyun Kwan University, Seoul, Korea 6: Nihon University, Tokyo, Japan 7: Osaka City University Medical School Abeno, Osaka, Japan

Publication date: November 1, 2010

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