Availability is a heuristic whereby people make judgments about the likelihood of an event based on how easily an example, instance, or case comes to mind. For example, investors may judge the quality of an investment based on information that was recently in the news, ignoring other relevant facts (Tversky & Kahneman, 1974). Similarly, it has been shown that individuals with a greater ability to recall antidepressant advertising estimate the prevalence of depression to be higher than those with low recall (An, 2008), while less knowledgeable consumers use the ease with which they can recall low-price products as a cue to make judgments about overall store prices (Ofir, Raghubir, Brosh, Monroe, & Heiman, 2008). The availability of information in memory also underlies the representativeness heuristic.

 

An, S. (2008). Antidepressant direct-to-consumer advertising and social perception of the prevalence of depression: Application of the availability heuristic. Health Communication, 23(6), 499-505.

Ofir, C., Raghubir, P., Brosh, G., Monroe, K. B., & Heiman, A. (2008). Memory-based store price judgments: the role of knowledge and shopping experience. Journal of Retailing, 84(4), 414-423.

Tversky, A., & Kahneman, D. (1974). Judgment under uncertainty: Heuristics and biases. Science (New Series), 185, 1124-1131.

 

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