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). In the domain of health, it has been shown that drug advertising recall affects the perceived prevalence of illnesses (An, 2008), while physicians’ recent experience of a condition increases the likelihood of subsequently diagnosing the condition (Poses & Anthony, 1991). In consumer research, availability can play a role in various estimates, such as store prices (Ofir et al., 2008) or product failure (Folkes, 1988). 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.

Folkes, V. S. (1988). The availability heuristic and perceived risk. Journal of Consumer research, 15(1), 13-23.

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.

Poses, R. M., & Anthony, M. (1991). Availability, wishful thinking, and physicians’ diagnostic judgments for patients with suspected bacteremia. Medical Decision Making, 11(3), 159-168.

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


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