Availability bias is a cognitive bias where individuals tend to rely on information that is easily available or comes readily to mind when making decisions. This can lead to distorted decisions because the information that is easily accessible is not necessarily the most accurate or relevant.
For example, if someone is trying to make a decision about a potential investment and only considers information about similar investments that have performed well in the past, they may be influenced by the availability bias. The easily accessible information about past performance may not accurately reflect the potential future performance of the investment, leading to a distorted decision.
Availability bias can also occur when people rely on personal experiences or anecdotes when making decisions, even though these examples may not be representative of the broader situation. To overcome availability bias, it's important to gather information from a variety of sources and consider a range of possibilities, rather than relying on the first information that comes to mind.
Another example of availability bias is when a person is making a decision about the safety of flying and only considers information about recent plane crashes, despite the fact that flying is much safer than other forms of transportation.
Because plane crashes make headlines and are often sensationalized in the media, they are easily available and come readily to mind. However, this information may not accurately reflect the overall safety of flying.
Availability bias can impact decision making in many areas, such as personal finance, health, and investing, by causing individuals to rely on information that is easily accessible but not necessarily representative of the broader picture.
To protect against availability bias when making decisions:
By taking these steps, you can reduce the influence of availability bias and make more accurate and informed decisions.