Exculpating victims and the reversal of hindsight bias

Stahlberg, Dagmar; Sczesny, Sabine; Schwarz, Stefan (23 June 1999). Exculpating victims and the reversal of hindsight bias (Sonderforschungsbereich 504 Publications 99-70). Mannheim: Universität Mannheim

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This experiment examines the role of the hindsight bias and of motivational forces such as the motive to believe in a just world as possible causes of the derogation of victims effect in the context of rape. The hindsight bias is the tendency of people to falsely believe that they would have predicted the outcome of an event once the outcome is known. Participants read descriptions of an interaction between a man and a woman that ended with one of four possible outcomes: The woman was raped with very severe consequences for her future life vs. rape with only minor consequences for her future life vs. no rape (assailant was forced to retreat by the strong defense of the victim) vs. no outcome information. To test motivational predictions the hindsight bias and the derogation effect were analyzed as a consequence of the sex of participants, the seriousness of the consequences of the rape, the belief in a just world and the acceptance of rape myths. Results supported the assumption that derogation effects are at least partly driven by hindsight bias and that motivational processes work via the hindsight bias. However, in this study we did not find a classical hindsight bias but a reversed hindsight bias: Especially female participants in the severe consequences of rape condition and those participants who did not accept rape myths rated the likelihood of rape in the rape outcome condition as smaller than participants in the no outcome information control group. They also derogated the victim less than participants in the no information control group. These effects were interpreted in terms of self-serving or in-group serving functions of the hindsight bias. Finally no support was found for the assumption that derogation effects are driven by the motive to believe in a just world.

Item Type:

Working Paper


07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Psychology > Social Neuroscience and Social Psychology

UniBE Contributor:

Sczesny, Sabine


100 Philosophy > 150 Psychology


Sonderforschungsbereich 504 Publications


Universität Mannheim




Sabine Sczesny

Date Deposited:

09 Feb 2016 15:04

Last Modified:

28 Nov 2020 02:26

Additional Information:

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, Sonderforschungsbereich 504: Rationalitätskonzepte, Entscheidungsverhalten und ökonomische Modellierung



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