August 30: Availability bias

We often misjudge the frequency and magnitude of events partly due to ease of recall.

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Source: Farnam Street
Published: March 2018

Availability bias

Our risk assessment is often skewed by availability bias. 

Availability bias states that we often misjudge the frequency and magnitude of events partly due to ease of recall. Ease of recall suggests that if something is easily recalled in our memory, because of a recent event or a vivid narrative, it occurs with higher probability. Incorrect perceptions of risk causes poor decision making. 

Examples

Insurance: You are more likely to purchase insurance to protect against natural disasters right after they happen, rather than before they occur.

Climate change: Perceiving that the hot summer day is “caused by climate change” because you heard the phrase recently discussed, rather than remembering that temperature regularly fluctuates. (Climate change is about the general trend of warming throughout the globe, not individual days or even years.)

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