Annie Duke on How to Decide, Part 2

In her book, How to Decide: Simple Tools for Making Better Choices, Annie Duke discusses how to train our brains to combat our own bias and help ourselves make more confident and better decisions.

These are some of my favorite concepts and takeaways from reading the book.

Chapter 2 “Hindsight Is Not 20/20”

Hindsight bias is the tendency to believe that an outcome, after it occurs, was predictable or inevitable. The typical cues for hindsight bias are reactions such as:

            “I should have known it.”

            “I told you so.”

            “I knew it all along.”

When we come under the influence of hindsight bias, we place an unreasonably large influence on our decisions’ outcome. We give ourselves more credit than we deserve for the right results while punishing ourselves more harshly for the unfavorable consequences.

Hindsight bias also distorts the way we process outcomes. We tend to associate a piece of prior knowledge with the outcome and amplify that piece of information. That particular bit of information may or may not be the direct cause of the result.

Also, the bias can introduce the “memory creep” effect. We experience the “memory creep” effect when we take a piece of information revealed after the fact and associate it with our memory of what we knew or was knowable before the decision.

To combat the hindsight bias, we must strive to be honest and accurate about what we knew at the time of our decision.

Just like the resulting bias, hindsight bias can lead us to diminished compassion for ourselves and others.