Hindsight Bias and Electoral Outcomes: Satisfaction Counts More Than Winner-Loser Status

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The tendency to perceive outcomes as more foreseeable once they are available is a well-known phenomenon. However, research on the cognitive and motivational factors that induce individuals to overestimate the foreseeability of an electoral outcome has yielded inconsistent findings. In three studies based on large-scale electoral surveys (ITANES, Italian National Election Studies), we argued that the tendency to perceive an electoral outcome as foreseeable is positively and consistently associated with satisfaction with the outcome. Across all studies, satisfaction with the outcome was significantly and positively associated with retrospective foreseeability, above and beyond voters’ preference for a “winning” or “losing” party. In Study 3, a measure of memory distortion of pre-electoral forecasts was included, which was only weakly associated with retrospective foreseeability, but not with satisfaction for the outcome, supporting the notion of different levels of hindsight bias associated with different cognitive and motivational factors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)201-224
Number of pages24
JournalSocial Cognition
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • foreseeability
  • hindsight bias
  • vote choice


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