Date of Award

Spring 2010

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



Committee Director

Ivan K. Ash

Committee Member

James Bliss

Committee Member

Donald D. Davis


A decision to trust or not to trust can be examined within a broader category of cognition research concerning decisions under uncertainty. The purpose of this research was to investigate trust decisions through the lens of the hindsight bias effect. The hindsight bias effect (sometimes known as the "I knew it all along" effect) is a consequence that often follows judgments under uncertainty. Two experiments examined participants' evaluations of trust outcomes to determine if and how judgments of trust might be susceptible to hindsight biases. Experiment 1 exposed participants to vignettes depicting a third-party trust transaction between friends, with outcomes of varying degrees of surprise. Experiment 2 replicated this with a different vignette and improved balance in the experimental manipulation. Hindsight bias effects for judgments of trust and corresponding patterns in memory distortions were observed, as predicted under the sense-making models of hindsight bias.


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