The Availability Heuristic

The Availability Heuristic is relatively similar to the attentional bias as it is a mental shortcut that relies on immediate examples that come to a given person’s mind when evaluating a specific topic, concept, method or decision. The availability heuristic operates on the notion that if something can be recalled, it must be important, or at least more important than alternative solutions which are not as readily recalled.

Subsequently, under the availability heuristic, people tend to heavily weigh their judgments toward more recent information, making new opinions biased toward that latest news. If that news is regarding an instance of a sales increase, for example, then much of what is then discussed or decided can be justified, reasoned and argued by using the sales increase.

A useful counter-measure is to note the order of what information you’re using for the decision/thought – which components appear there mainly because they’re recalled easily and which belong there from merit?

For a full list of the most common biases, click here.