Availability bias: recalling particular examples In judging the frequency of events


In judging frequency of events people sometimes use the ease with which they can recall particular examples (Tversky & Kahneman, 1974). The availability heuristic is of great importance in assessing risk given that the events that are recent or more covered in the media, for example, murder, accidents, and tornadoes, will be perceived as riskier (Lichtenstein, Slovic, Fischhoff, Layman, & Combs, 1978). On the other hand, risks for which it is harder to recall concrete examples given that they are, for example, less “dramatic”, are underestimated (Lichtenstein et al., 1978). A follow-up study by Combs and Slovic (1979) showed that people's errors in judging probability was strongly associated with selective reporting in newspapers.

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