That Guy Won? Why We Knew It All Along

… Amid the many uncertainties of next Tuesday’s presidential election lies one sure thing: Many people will feel in their gut that they knew the result all along. …

Most will also have a ready-made argument for why it was inevitable that Mitt Romney, or Barack Obama, won — displaying the sort of false, after-the-fact “foresight” that psychologists call hindsight bias.

“The important thing to know about hindsight bias is that it not only changes how you see the world, but also how you see yourself in it,” said Neal Roese, a professor of marketing at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. …

Once they know an outcome, people tend to inflate their initial predictions by an average of 15 to 20 percent, Dr. Roese said — ample wiggle room to retrospectively alter almost any prediction from “it’s going to happen” to “it probably won’t,” be it a tennis match, a legal decision or a presidential race. [cont.]

Benedict Carey, New York Times