Availability Heuristic

The availability heuristic is a mental shortcut that occurs when people make judgments about the probability of events by the ease with which examples come to mind. The availability heuristic operates on the notion that, "if you can think of it, it must be important." The availability of consequences associated with an action is positively related to perceptions of the magnitude of the consequences of that action. In other words, the easier it is to recall the consequences of something, the greater we perceive these consequences to be. Sometimes, this heuristic is beneficial, but the frequencies that events come to mind are usually not accurate reflections of their actual probability in real life. For example, if someone asked you whether your college had more students from Colorado or more from California, under the availability heuristic, you would probably answer the question based on the relative availability of examples of Colorado students and California students. If you recall more students that come from California that you know, you will be more likely to conclude that more students in your college are from California than from Colorado.

Read more about Availability HeuristicOverview and History, Research, Examples, Critiques

Other articles related to "availability heuristic, availability":

Availability Cascade - Belief Formation - Availability Heuristic
... Even educated human beings are notoriously poor at thinking statistically.The availability heuristic, first identified by Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, is a mental shortcut that occurs when ... The availability heuristic operates on the notion that, "if you can think of it, it must be important." Availability can be influenced by the emotional power of examples ...
Availability Heuristic - Critiques
... Other psychologists argue that the classic studies on the availability heuristic are vague and do not explain the underlying processes ... In one way, as the availability heuristic suggests, the subjects may use the subjective experience of ease or difficulty of recall as a basis of judgment ... of the earlier experiment was flawed and did not actually determine how the availability heuristic works ...

Famous quotes containing the word availability:

    Since ... six weeks ago, there has been no day in which I have not had letters and visits on the subject of my nomination for the Presidency.... I say very little. I have in no instance encouraged any one to work to that end.... I have said the whole talk about me is on the score of availability. Let availability do the work then.
    Rutherford Birchard Hayes (1822–1893)