Reading about explanations enhances perceptions of inevitability and foreseeability: a cross-cultural study with Wikipedia articles
- 333 Downloads
In hindsight, people often perceive events to be more inevitable and foreseeable than in foresight. According to Causal Model Theory (Nestler et al. in J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn 34: 1043–1054, 2008), causal explanations are crucial for such hindsight distortions to occur. The present study provides further empirical support for this notion but extends previous findings in several ways. First, ecologically valid materials were used. Second, the effect of causal information on hindsight distortions was investigated in the realm of previously known events. Third, cross-cultural differences in reasoning (analytic vs. holistic) were taken into account. Specifically, German and Vietnamese participants in our study were presented with Wikipedia articles about the nuclear power plant in Fukushima Daiichi, Japan. They read either the version that existed before the nuclear disaster unfolded (Version 1) or the article that existed 8 weeks after the catastrophe commenced (Version 2). Only the latter contained elaborations on causal antecedents and therefore provided an explanation for the disaster. Reading that version led participants to perceive the nuclear disaster to be more likely inevitable and foreseeable when compared to reading Version 1. Cultural background did not exert a significant effect on these perceptions. Hence, hindsight distortions were obtained for ecologically valid materials even if the event was already known. Implications and directions for future research are discussed.
KeywordsHindsight bias Causal models Wikipedia Cross-cultural comparisons
Preparation of the manuscript was supported by grants from the DFG to Aileen Oeberst and Ulrike Cress (OE 604/1-1) and Steffen Nestler and Mitja D. Back (NE 1485/5-1). We are grateful to Nguyen Thi Hoai Nga who helped us with collecting data from Vietnamese students.
- Anderson JC, Jennings MM, Lowe DJ, Reckers PMJ (1997) The mitigation of hindsight bias in judges’ evaluation of auditor decisions. Audit J Pract Theory 16:20–39Google Scholar
- Forte A, Bruckman A (2008). Scaling consensus: increasing decentralization in Wikipedia governance. Proceedings of the international conference of the learning sciences, Bloomington, USAGoogle Scholar
- Keegan B, Gergle D, Contractor N (2011) Hot off the Wiki: dynamics, practices, and structures in Wikipedia’s coverage of the Tōhoku catastrophes. Proceedings of the 7th international symposium on wikis and open collaboration, ACM Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
- Kittur A, Kraut R (2008) Harnessing the wisdom of crowds in Wikipedia: quality through coordination. Proceedings of the ACM 2008 conference on computer supported cooperative work, ACM Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
- Merz M, Döring N (2010) Aktive beteiligung an Wikipedia aus sozial-kognitiver perspektive. http://purl.org/merz/20100926 on 27 Nov 2012
- Nisbett RE (2003) The geography of thought. Free Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
- Norenzayan A, Choi I, Peng K (2007) Perception and cognition. In: Kitayama S, Cohen D (eds) Handbook of cultural psychology. Guilford Press, New York, pp 569–594Google Scholar
- Oeberst A, Halatchliyski I, Kimmerle J, Cress U (2014) Knowledge construction in Wikipedia: a systemic-constructivist analysis. J Learn Sci (in press). http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10508406.2014.888352