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Availability Heuristic

Availability Heuristic


The availability heuristic refers to our tendency to give more weight to information that readily comes to mind. This means that people often overestimate the probability of rare events. Such as being eaten by a shark, murdered by a serial killer or die in a tsunami because they get a lot of publicity in the media when they occur.

Lottery and casino companies benefit from availability bias by regularly making announcements about jackpot winners and how it has changed their lives. Of course we hardly ever hear anything about the many millions of people who don’t win money on the lottery or at the casino. As a result people think they are much more likely to win the lottery or slots jackpot than is really the case.

Politicians use it:

Politicians benefit from the availability heuristic by playing on myths and half-truths. The 2016 UK Brexit vote may have been influenced by availability bias. Over a number of years many misleading and false stories were published in the British media about the EU. In one case the Telegraph and the Express newspapers vastly over estimated the number of long-term EU migrants coming into the country by including the number of short-term migrants (less than 1 year) over 5 consecutive years.


To benefit from the availability heuristic brands should use the drip-drip approach to advertising rather than a single burst. Repetition of messages online throughout the user journey can also trigger the availability heuristic. It is also a reason for consistent branding and imagery on a website to reinforce important brand messages. Your brand is your most important asset. Ensure your logo or brand name is displayed on all screens on both your website and mobile app.


Conversion marketing – Glossary of Conversion Marketing.

Cognitive biases – Why do people prefer gut instinct to research?

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