Graeme Newell

Availability Heuristic

Availability Heuristic

Unfortunately, your brain is crazy lazy. That’s why it regularly relies on a devious cognitive bias called the AVAILABILITY HEURISTIC. This is our powerful inclination to be convinced by facts that come to mind most easily, whether they’re true or not.

Whatever is most readily available in our brains is believed to be the most true. Repeat a lie often enough, and most of us will have a powerful inclination to believe it.

We’re most likely to fall for the availability heuristic when we:

-Experience a crisis.
-Get information from authority figures.
-Subject ourselves to fearful media.
-Are under time pressure.
-Hear or see any message repeatedly.
-Rely on personal experience rather than objective data.
-Trust gut feelings rather than critical thinking.

How can we beat the availability heuristic? You must carefully manage the information allowed into your brain. Remember, ALL information will subconsciously sway your choices, even ludicrous information.

-Stop watching any news source that promises “breaking news.” Their goal isn’t to inform you, it’s to frighten you.
-Create a “maybe it’s true” inbox in your brain. New information goes here, but until it’s verified, it doesn’t go into the “belief” box.
-Purposefully delay the formation of opinions. After ingesting new information, consciously set it aside. Put off forming an opinion until the next day.
-Write down what you believe. The very act of turning beliefs into written words often compels us to reconsider.
-As you launch a social app, say aloud: “This app is designed to hold attention, not to inform.”