Availability heuristic

The availability heuristic is a cognitive bias in which people judge the likelihood or frequency of an event based on how easily it comes to mind or how readily available it is in memory. This can lead to overestimating the frequency of rare events that are particularly vivid or memorable, and underestimating the frequency of more common events that are less memorable or less salient.

The availability heuristic is thought to occur because people rely on mental shortcuts or heuristics to make judgements and decisions, particularly when faced with complex or ambiguous information. By relying on information that is easily accessible or familiar, people can make quick and efficient judgements, but this can also lead to biases and errors in reasoning.

The availability heuristic can have a range of impacts on decision-making and behaviour, such as:

* Risk perception: People may overestimate the risk of rare but memorable events such as aeroplane crashes, while underestimating the risk of more common but less memorable events such as car accidents.

* Social influence: People may be influenced by media coverage or social trends that emphasise particular events or issues, leading to a bias towards those issues in their judgements and decisions.

* Personal experience: People may rely on their own personal experiences and memories to make judgements about the likelihood of events, leading to biases based on their own unique experiences and perspectives.

Overall, the availability heuristic is an important cognitive bias that can influence a wide range of judgements and decisions. By being aware of this bias and actively seeking out more accurate and complete information, individuals can make more informed and objective decisions, and avoid errors and biases in reasoning.

Availability heuristic