Book Definition: A faulty heuristic strategy that estimates probabilities based on information that can be recalled (made available) from personal experience.

In Your Own Words


  • Overestimating the probabilities of events associated with memorable or vivid occurrences.
  • Predicting the likelihood of an event based on how easily an example can be brought to mind.
  • Basing your opinion off of what easily comes to mind from your long term memory instead of looking at all the options.
  • Opinions based on previous personal experience instead of looking over everything.
  • An action that isn't frequent but feels like it is.

Examples/Functions


  • A person who watches a lot of violent movies may be more likely to worry about crimes, because they can easily recall examples of violent crime.
  • From Mr. Wray's song: "I'm biased toward the first example that comes to mind. Availability bias: the first thing that comes to mind."
  • If someone were to ask you if it is easier to think of words that begin with the letter S or words with S in the third position of the word, you would think of words that begin with S because they are "more available" from long-term memory.
  • "Well it worked that one time and I can't think of a time when SparkNotes failed me!" but really you can only think of the time you got 100% on an assignment after using SparkNotes.
  • Every time you're on a plane, you're afraid of there being an accident. Even though plane accidents happen rarely, you just watch a lot of news and movies that have to do with plane crashes.
  • Get afraid every time you drive because a relative had been hurt in car crash earlier in your life.
  • When Mr. Cizek asks for a definition and example of imprinting on an LRQ, a girl might immediately start writing about Twilight because they've read the books/seen the movies, and that was the first example they thought of.
  • After seeing a roller coaster breakdown, you refuse to go on that ride even though it was fixed.
  • after your late to work , your boss wants to talk to you , you automatically think your gonna get fired
  • If someone asks you if you like country music and the first country song you think of is terrible so you say no--even if you enjoy some others.
  • Being scared to go in the ocean after recently watching Jaws

Additional Resources


  1. http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-availability-bias.htm
  2. Mr. Wray's Cognitive Bias VideoSong: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3RsbmjNLQkc