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I’ve seen this pattern play out a few times, and I have to believe there is some formal terminology for it.

Imagine two friends (or coworkers or husband and wife): one person volunteers to do an undesirable task. Once complete, if the task is done imperfectly (potentially due to parameters beyond control of the first person), the second person is critical and claims this wouldn’t have happened had he/she been in charge.

Example: A couple decide to install new wood floors, which requires finding contractors, negotiating, scheduling, etc. The wife volunteers, and as the project gets close to finishing, there is an unexpected supply shortage, and the project will be delayed a week while they await new supplies. The husband gets upset because now their house looks a mess when visiting family is in town, and blames his wife for mismanaging the project, and claims this wouldn’t have happened if he were managing the project.

This sort of behavior seems to reflect some narcissism and a lack of empathy, but I’m curious about terminology for this “Monday morning quarterbacking” time behavior.

Thanks.

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  • $\begingroup$ "Everybody thinks they're good at managing home decoration projects." version of superiority bias. $\endgroup$ – Fizz Nov 16 '17 at 20:23
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I think this phenomenon can be explained by the hindsight bias :

Hindsight bias, also known as the knew-it-all-along effect or creeping determinism, is the inclination, after an event has occurred, to see the event as having been predictable, despite there having been little or no objective basis for predicting it. ... Hindsight bias may cause memory distortion, where the recollection and reconstruction of content can lead to false theoretical outcomes.

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A basic example of the hindsight bias is when, after viewing the outcome of a potentially unforeseeable event, a person believes he or she "knew it all along". Such examples are present in the writings of historians describing outcomes of battles, physicians recalling clinical trials, and in judicial systems trying to attribute responsibility and predictability of accidents.

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Hindsight bias has similarities to other memory distortions, such as misinformation effect and false autobiographical memory. Misinformation effect occurs after an event is witnessed; new information received after the fact influences how the person remembers the event, and can be called post-event misinformation.

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There is no solution to eliminate hindsight bias in its totality, but only ways to reduce it. Some of which include considering alternative explanations or opening one's mind to different perspectives. In terms of auditory communication, the speaker would try to provide more clarity in his or her delivery and the listener may seek greater clarification

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for this. While it certain is a logic fallacy, and has hint of superiority bias (per comments from @Fizz), I believe hindsight bias is probably most apt. $\endgroup$ – findchris Nov 18 '17 at 0:30
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It could also be described as errors in reasoning.

The logical fallacies that come to mind are:

post hoc, ergo propter hoc (false cause)

non sequitur (it does not follow)

To use your example,

  1. there is no proof that the wife was the cause of the delay and that the husband would have avoided it.
  2. even if the wife was the planner, it does not follow that she (alone or in part) was the sole cause of the delay and that the delay would not have otherwise have happened.

In psychological terms, this can be referred to as

thought disorder, specifically illogicality

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