Can knowledge of election results change recall of our predictions? Neural correlates of political hindsight bias

Yin Hua Chen, Hsu Po Cheng, Yu Wen Lu, Pei Hong Lee, Georg Northoff, Nai Shing Yen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Hindsight bias (HB) is the tendency to retrospectively exaggerate one’s foresight knowledge about the outcome of an event. Cognitive processes influenced by newly obtained outcome information are used to explain the HB phenomenon, but the neural correlates remain unknown. This study investigated HB in the context of election results using a memory design and functional magnetic resonance imaging for the first time. Participants were asked to predict and recall the percentage of votes obtained by (pairs of) candidates before and after an election. The results revealed that 88% of participants showed HB by recalling that their predictions were closer to the actual outcomes than they really were; and participants had HB for 38% of the events. The HB effect was associated with activation in the medial superior frontal gyrus and bilateral inferior frontal gyrus (IFG), which have been implicated in updating an old belief due to new information and is similar to the process of reconstruction bias. Furthermore, participants with a greater HB effect showed greater activation of the left IFG. In conclusion, we successfully observed the HB phenomenon in election results, and our imaging results suggested that the HB phenomenon might involve reconstruction bias.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0220690
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2019


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

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