Hindsight bias

Theory explained by Sander Volbeda and written by Amos Tversky & Daniel Kahneman

The hindsight bias is a tendency in human psychology to look back at the events which were unpredictable in reality when they really occurred and think such events were easily predictable. Therefore, this bias is called the ‘knew-it-all-along’ bias.

Think of this hypothetical: Your friend, Elisha, and his boyfriend, Sam seemed to have a somewhat good relationship. One evening, you get this call from your friend and she is sobbing. Suddenly, you are worried and you think whether everything is okay between Elisha and Sam! Elisha spits it out that Sam needs a break from her. At the very moment, you tell yourself, ‘Oh, I knew it all along.’ You recall all the signs of their unhappy relationship, the canceled plans, the anniversary which was forgotten, and so forth. Having looked back at the incidents, you get this feeling, ‘I knew it’ and as a result, you are not surprised by the bad news from Elisha. To say the least, once the unforeseeable breakup, suddenly becomes foreseeable to you after it really took place. This is how the hindsight bias works. As a result of this bias, finally you overestimate your knack to have predicted this result about Elisha, only once their relationship is over.

Are you aware that these cognitive biases can be used to influence our decisions by a third party? The cognitive biases in psychology are used by marketers to influence their customers’ behavior and decisions to their favor for Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO). But, the hindsight bias should be avoided taking place in the minds of your customers about your brand in a case of a failure.

Hindsight bias and Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)

The key here is not to let your target customers experience the hindsight bias if they happen to experience that they are not completely satisfied with your brand as they expected. Think about the example of Elisha and Sam. Only because you heard about how Sam had not contributed well towards their relationship, you thought that ‘I knew it all along.’ But, if you were not aware of Sam’s role in their relationship or, most importantly, if Elisha had portrayed Sam having a good personality, you would never have thought, ‘I knew it all’, instead you might think, ‘what possibly could have gone wrong’ or ‘whether Elisha too is responsible for the consequences.’

This is what you should implant in the minds of your customers in the case of a disappointment, such as ‘did I pick the wrong product this time’; instead of ‘I knew this was going to happen.’ A dissatisfied customer who experienced hindsight bias will never keep her thought, ‘I knew it all along’ to her, but most likely to spread a negative buzz about your product or the brand. We all know that there is no other powerful way than ‘the word of mouth’ to communicate something rapidly among people. Yes, you never want it to your disadvantage! To get rid of the hindsight bias stabbing your conversions, you have a big role to play from the moment your customers step on your website.

Create a very good first impression in an authentic way

The ideal place to create a good first impression is your landing page. Here are the key points that you can implement to create a good impression. You can use headlines wisely to make the benefits of your offers crystal clear. This is absolutely important as you don’t have forever to make your customers feel interested in you. Headlines are the ideal elements to capture user attention quite fast. Secondly, show your offers clearly. To accomplish this, you can definitely use high quality visual content. And most importantly, use trust symbols. You can use testimonials to boost credibility. Now think, if a customer lands on such a page to be quite impressed, he/she can never say, ‘I knew it all along’ in a disappointed situation, instead will have second thoughts about her choice.

Show that you care

To show your visitors that you really care is an ideal way to boost credibility which definitely can work to your favor, to get rid of the hindsight bias. To do this, you can ask for feedback from them and most importantly the negative feedback should be addressed with care ensuring that you are going to do everything in your power not to cause any inconvenience in the due course. This can be facilitated by responding to reviews keeping it in mind. Use personalized communication through personalized emails. By acting accordingly, you can make sure that the hindsight bias never works to your disadvantage for Conversion Rate Optimization in a case of delivering mismatching values.

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References

The references contain experiments and studies that prove this bias is there.

1. Hindsight Bias Around the World
2. Hindsight Bias

Books

Would you like to go more in-depth? Here are our recommendations:

Hindsight Bias: A Special Issue of Memory (Special Issues of Memory) by Ulrich Hoffrage & Rüdiger Pohl Buy this book

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