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Reception and production of scientific information in Wikipedia: The influence of hindsight bias and social categorization

Knowledge Construction Lab






When laypersons search the Internet for information they are frequently confronted with a variety of scientific findings, which are often inconsistent and thus provide a challenge for the recipient. We propose that two processes, the hindsight bias and social categorizations, facilitate the handling of conflicting evidence. While people in hindsight focus on outcome consistent information, social categorizations lead to a preference for information that is consistent with one's attitude (and one's in-group) as well as a degradation of attitude inconsistent information.

Since the development of the Web 2.0, however, users may not only read scientific information but also produce science-related information on the Web. Therefore we propose that both processes should likewise be observed for authors of web contents. The aim of the project is to investigate whether a hindsight bias and social categorizations can be observed in recipients as well as producers of the online encyclopedia Wikipedia. Additionally we will examine the efficacy of three strategies that might reduce the hindsight bias as well as the effects of social categorizations. We expect the results to complement the previous findings regarding the reception of conflicting scientific evidence and to further our theoretical understanding of the relationship between individual and collective information processing.



  • Oeberst, A., & Nestler, S. (2012, April). Hindsight Bias 2.0. Der Rückschaufehler in und durch Wikipedia. 54. Tagung experimentell arbeitender Psychologen. Mannheim.
  • Oeberst, A., von der Beck, I., & Nestler, S. (2014). Reading about explanations enhances perceptions of inevitability and foreseeability. A cross-cultural study with Wikipedia articles. Cognitive Processing, 15, 343-349. DOI: 10.1007/s10339-014-0603-7
  • Oeberst, A., von der Beck, I., & Nestler, S. (2014). Hindsight bias 2.0 — Biased representations of events in Wikipedia. 17. General Meeting of the European Association of Social Psychology. Amsterdam, NL. [Poster]
  • von der Beck, I., Oeberst, A., & Nestler, S. (2014). Cognitive aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Can reading Wikipedia articles increase individual hindsight bias? 17. General Meeting of the European Association of Psychology. Amsterdam, NL. [Poster]
  • von der Beck, I. &, Oeberst, A. (2015). Can reading Wikipedia articles increase hindsight bias? Evidence from a cross-cultural approach. 16th Annual Meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Long Beach, USA. https://osf.io/9rfa3/ [Poster]