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Hindsight Bias

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Abstract

            This paper focuses on the importance of empowering leadership and management styles in order to avoid engaging into hindsight bias or cognitive mechanism. For every company or organization, hindsight is likely to happen if members or leaders encounter failure and disappointments. In so doing, this paper discusses on some strategic concepts and theories related to effective leadership style and advices to use the modern approach of combined leadership styles. This paper would also discuss how hindsight is used proactively in organizational contexts and in any context to avoid criticizing oneself or other members of the group for unwanted outcomes.

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Hindsight Bias

Introduction

            For an individual or a group, hindsight is used negatively to criticize oneself or one’s group; however, it can also be used in a positive way. Proactively, hindsight is also used by employees, leaders, and even managers or supervisors in the workplace. They make use of their hindsight mechanisms to rehearse an undesired outcome of a plan that did not have a good result in order to not commit the same mistakes again in the future.

The objective of this paper then, is to show its readers how the concept of hindsight bias or the I-knew-it-all-along-phenomenon could be used as a positive medium for productivity in the individual and success in groups or the organizations (Myers, 2005).

Literature Review

            Hindsight or hindsight bias is defined as an individual’s inclination in exaggeratedly presuming a desirable or an undesirable outcome or an event that usually crossed one’s mind before the event actually occurred (Myers, 2005). However, this hindsight is a statement usually imparted after the occurrence of the scenario.  It is an individual’s or group’s thinking mechanism of explaining an unexpected scenario of a miscalculated result or response from an overlooked or unnoticed involuntary stimulus. Meaning, it is normal for persons in the group or for an individual to act like as if a particular incident was foreseen when it is unexpected in reality.

            In the workplace setting for instance, hindsight is one of the different attitudinal response or behavior displayed by most employees and even the leaders in order to adapt and endure positive or negative changes (Newstrom & Davis, 2002). To respond from an unpredicted negative scenario, employees or leaders are most likely to remark that the undesired outcome was foreseen only that they have chosen to engage in risk taking for a probability of a success of a plan. In order to save themselves from a negative criticism or from embarrassment, employees appointed and leaders assigned on a specific plan are inclined to apply their psychological hindsight mechanism to subconsciously persuade and get the sympathy of the other members of the group, instead ending up being criticized and deprecated by the majority of the group. Therefore, hindsight mechanism is attributed to a form of coping among individuals and groups (Newstrom & Davis, 2002).

Methodology

            Hindsight bias is like foretelling a particular incident after it actually occurred. It is mostly used by everyone almost anywhere. As mentioned earlier, hindsight may be used by an employer or an employee in a workplace setting, or also by an educator or a student in the school setting. Here’s a concrete example, a math professor/educator have two strategies (the long method=strategy A, and the short method=strategy B) in teaching a specific solution in order to solve a particular problem. The professor has chosen to teach the short method/strategy B since the professor probably thought that it would reduce the time that the student has to spend in solving their mathematic equation. Further, the professor decided to give a short quiz to his students after teaching the method to apply the strategy that they have just learned only to come up with poor results from the students’ test scores. The problem was that the students were more familiar in using the strategy A even if it is the long method. They have been using the method since the 1st grade that explains that the longevity of a formula or solution does not have anything to do with the accuracy of answers. Now, the professor thought to himself: “I knew it. The students are more familiarized upon using the conventional method. I should have thought them the long method in the first place.” However, the positive lesson learned by the professor is that the nest time he introduces a new lesson, he would use and teach two methods among the students the next time and so he would really actually see the difference of the two methods in order for him to compare the accuracy of the two methods and the rate of the students’ correct answers in the mathematic problem.

Data Analysis

            Into the employer-employee relationship, hindsight is also apparent. For example, an employer has discussed career briefing and orientation that may sound so good to be true. The persuaded candidate newly hired employee would then expect so much from what the employer has imparted. With limited resources, support, or guidance, the employee would accept the job offer as soon as possible and recruitment would move on to the next process which is, the contract signing. However, if the employee was on board to do the job, the expectations would linger with one’s mind and that employee would wait until one has attained everything that the employer has promised. Furthermore, if the employee waited for a long time, it is probably that this employee would be dissatisfied with one’s work (and will also be dissatisfied with the leadership quality of the distrustful employer). The employee would then engage into hindsight bias by thinking that the discrepancy or imparity was obvious because one’s past experience of the career briefing and orientation was very appealing. In the manner of thinking, the employee would learn that the disappointing experience should be put into his account so that one is going to avoid being in the similar situation in the future. Thus, in making use of hindsight mechanism, the employee rehearses the undesirable outcome by analyzing the root cause of the present unwanted outcome. The employee thinks back in the past of what must have been the cues or clues in ending up with a situation that is unpredicted. On the other hand, same thing applies for a positive outcome of a psychological contract made by the employer-employee relationship. If an employer for example, imparted little about the companies’ benefits, perk and privileges, the employee would expect the less. But when on board, and the employee receives much of what was expected, (like promotions, unexpected benefits, etc.) the employee is still likely to use one’s hindsight to explain the unexpected yet desired outcome. The employee then, would be satisfied due to the unexpected reinforcement received and is more likely to exert best performance in executing one’s tasks and job duties (Conway & Briner, 2005).

Results

The focuses of this paper is showing how could hindsight be used proactively in any setting. American Psychological Association (APA) suggests the same for conducting a study regarding hindsight bias to prove such statement (Myers, 2005). Results shows that using hindsight mechanism among the participants actually helps improve one’s cognitive thinking and increase one’s retention of accurate information (Myers, 2005). This accounts for the explanation of engaging into hindsight bias as a form of cognitive processing occurring in an individual’s brain.

Discussion

Strategic Changes to Improve Situations

            It is very important for a company or any organizational group to empower its leaders to attain a productive management that would bring about the success of the actions and completion of the group’s plans and tasks. Relatively, hindsight is not used only to predict negative outcomes but also for the positive events foresighted. Sometimes, hindsight bias when used correctly could lead the best result of a certain plan. For measuring the effectivity of a newly imposed policy or say, a new established process in the system, leaders engage into the concept of trial and error by taking risks and implementing the proposed plan. But before anything else, a good and effective leader must have a good reasoning skills and sound judgment before relying into one’s own hunches, intuitions, or hindsights; otherwise, the company or organization would be in chaos or in total disaster. (Newstrom & Davis, 2002).

            Furthermore, a variety of psychological theories and concepts should be combined in order to attain the ideal and effective leadership (Shriberg et. al., 2002). Understanding of personality traits theory (different cognitive behavior mechanisms of man) and knowledge in group dynamics in order to facilitate group processes are important to put into account when one desires to gain modern approaches to effective leadership. Multiculturalism also has to be considered in order to be able to deal with employees in different race, color, linguistic, or cultural background. Leadership style has to be ethical, transformational, charismatic and organizational in order to maintain good followers or loyal members of the group. Unethical type of leadership includes that of being hypocritical and deceptive manner of managing one’s subordinates and thus, should be eliminated for it does not do any good to the employer-employee relationship including the reputation of the company as well. Satisfaction of the members among their trustworthy and proactive leaders would lead them to become more motivated in their jobs and would make them establish rapport, confidence, and loyalty in their employers, managers/leaders, or in the company in general. Therefore, in order to avoid the psychological need of engaging into hindsight mechanism, negative outcomes in any organization shall and could be prevented by empowering both employer and employee or leader and member, to become proactive and become a true leader of themselves and to attain a win-win attitude by having initiative with one’s tasks. In such cases, hunches and intuitions are far of better than hindsight bias since the two aforementioned concepts are more advanced thinking and therefore, reduce the likelihood of an unwanted outcomes (Shriberg et. al., 2002).

Conclusion

Hindsight/ hindsight bias is defined as an individual’s tendency and likelihood to exaggeratedly presume a desirable or an undesirable outcome or event that usually crossed one’s mind before the event actually occurred. It is a normal cognitive mechanism of an individual or group to engage into hindsight  and act as if a particular incident was foreseen when it is unpredicted in reality. Hindsight is like foretelling a particular incident after it actually occurred. It is mostly used by everyone in any setting: school, work, or even hospitals. Moreover, hindsight could be used proactively in any setting. The American Psychological Association (APA) suggests the same for conducting a study regarding hindsight bias to prove such statement (Myers, 2005). Results shows that using hindsight mechanism among the participants actually helps improve one’s cognitive thinking and increase one’s retention of accurate information (Myers, 2005). This accounts for the explanation of engaging into hindsight bias as a form of cognitive processing occurring in an individual’s brain. For measuring the effectivity of a newly imposed policy or say, a new established process in the system, leaders engage into the concept of trial and error by taking risks and implementing the proposed plan. But first, an effective leader must have good reasoning skills and sound judgment before relying into one’s own hunches, intuitions, or hindsights; otherwise, the company or organization would be in chaos. In order to avoid the psychological need of engaging into hindsight mechanism, negative outcomes in any organization could be prevented by empowering both employer and employee or leader and member, to become proactive and become a true leader of themselves by practicing the combination of modern and ideal approaches of leadership styles and attain a win-win attitude. It is saying that hunches and intuitions are better than hindsight bias since the concepts are advanced foresight and they reduce the likelihood of an unwanted and erroneous outcome.

References

Conway, N., & Briner, R. B. (2005). Understanding psychological contracts at work: A critical

evaluation of theory and research.

Great Calendron St., New York: Oxford University Press.

Myers, D. (2005). Social psychology. NY: McGraw-Hill Co. Inc.

Newstrom, J., & Davis, K. (2002). Organizational behavior: Human behavior at work.

New York: McGraw-Hill/Irwin. Retrieved October 26, 2005 from Resource Library, University of Phoenix.

Shriberg, A., Shriberg, D., & Lloyd, C. (2002). Practicing leadership: Principles and

            applications, 2nd ed. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Retrieved March 26, 2005 from

            Resource Library, University             of Phoenix.

 

Cite this Hindsight Bias

Hindsight Bias. (2016, Oct 06). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/hindsight-bias/

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