Hindsight bias among psychiatrists

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Psychiatry

Publication Date


Document Type



Adult; Dangerous Behavior; Expert Testimony; Female; *Forensic Psychiatry; Homicide; Humans; Male; Mental Disorders; *Mental Recall; Organizational Affiliation; Outcome Assessment (Health Care); Patient Discharge; *Prejudice; Quality Assurance, Health Care; Risk Assessment; Suicide; United States; Violence


Health Services Research | Mental and Social Health | Psychiatric and Mental Health | Psychiatry | Psychiatry and Psychology


It is crucial to minimize bias when offering forensic opinions; however, to our knowledge there are few, if any, existing data examining whether psychiatrists are susceptible to one source of such bias, hindsight bias. In the current study, 235 general and forensic psychiatrists reviewed hypothetical cases in which patients with suicidal or homicidal ideation presented for psychiatric care. We informed half of the participants that a suicide or homicide had occurred shortly after the patients were released from care (hindsight group) but withheld outcome information from the other participants (control group). Participants estimated the likelihood that suicide or violence would occur at the time of the patient's release and whether the standard of care had been met in each case. Responses were compared between groups for suggestions of hindsight bias. Results indicate that hindsight bias plays a role in assessments of risk, but not of negligence, and that psychiatrists who are American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law (AAPL) members may be less prone to respond with hindsight bias than are others.


J Am Acad Psychiatry Law. 2007;35(1):67-73.

Journal/Book/Conference Title

The journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID