What is Availability Bias?

In any decision-making process, bias can be significantly critical. Simply put, it is an irrational prejudice towards a specific factor. For most individuals, these include tendencies to make decisions without critical thinking or consideration. There are several biases that individuals may face during their decisions. One such bias consists of the availability bias.

What is the Availability Bias?

Availability bias is a type of heuristic that individuals face during their decisions. This bias involves the tendency to prefer readily available information. It also includes the inclination to use information that comes to an individual’s mind quickly and easily. Another name used for the availability bias is the availability heuristic.

Availability bias can hamper an individual’s critical thinking skills and result in wrong decisions. It results from mental shortcuts that individuals develop over time. When individuals rely on information that they can readily think of, it is known as availability bias. It may also relate to recency bias as it is common for individuals to recall recent information.

How does Availability Bias work?

When considering various options, it is common for the mind to rely on mental shortcuts to make quick decisions. Usually, individuals rely on historical information from their memory to make such decisions. Whenever someone thinks of a situation, they may get a sudden thought related to it. In these cases, they are more likely to allow this thought to influence their decisions.

When individuals put reliance on the information that is readily available to them, it cultivates availability bias. Usually, individuals are likely to give more preference to this information and overestimate its importance. It is also possible that they think of such events repeating in the future are high. In reality, however, such circumstances may not occur, which will impact their decision-making.

For example, an investor considers investing in two different stocks. The first stock relates to the technology industry. As soon as the investor thinks of this stock, they recall a previous bad experience with similar investments. The second stock relates to the finance sector. However, the investor does not have any information related to it. Due to availability bias, the investor is likely to prefer investing in the second stock.

How can the Availability Bias influence decision-making?

The availability bias may have several unfavourable impacts on an individual’s decision-making process. In essence, it leads individuals into making wrong decisions, which will have adverse outcomes. Since availability bias relies on information that individuals can easily recall, it is insufficient to make decisions. The lack of sufficient information can lead to low-quality judgments.

How to avoid the Availability Bias?

The availability bias stems from mental shortcuts that help individuals make quick decisions. However, these shortcuts do not provide the best background for decision-making. While it is crucial to understand how this bias works to avoid it, it is not sufficient to eliminate it. Usually, the availability bias may stem from several mental shortcuts going off at the same time.

Individuals must always consider all factors when making a decision. Through critical thinking and proper consideration, individuals can avoid this bias. However, this process may not be as straightforward. Individuals overly involved in a specific event are also likely to have information related to that event readily available. Therefore, distancing oneself from the decision-making process for a period may also be beneficial.

Conclusion

Biases are common in decision-making. Availability bias is a bias in which individuals put reliance on information that readily comes to their mind. This bias can hamper an individual’s decision-making ability and result in wrong decisions. However, it is possible to avoid it. With critical thinking and proper consideration, individuals can combat availability bias.

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