Memory’s Nasty Little Trick

For the last twenty-plus years I have warning crime fighters about a nasty little set of tricks our memory plays on us after a critical incident. I have written and written about it and I am going to again today because this is a dirty little trick the...

If you or your agency ever faces a hostile media over a critical incident, constantly refresh the unknowns the officer or officers faced that the media will act as if they were facts known to the officers.  Uncertainty, risk, fear, and the unknown are ubiquitous in our daily calls and the public must constantly be reminded of that so they can better understand our actions and their consequences!

For all investigators, command staff and trainers understanding hindsight bias is an essential step in learning from critical incidents and creating more effective training and policy!


Additional references:

Donald A. Norman, Ph.D. (1988). THE PSYCHOLOGY OF EVERYDAY THINGS. New York: Basic Books. 

Fischoff, B. (1975). HINDSIGHT- FORESIGHT: THE EFFECT OF OUTCOME KNOWLEDGE ON JUDGMENT UNDER UNCERTAINTY. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 1, 288-299. 

Wildavsky, Aaron, Ph.D. (1988). SEARCHING FOR SAFETY. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers.

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