Thinking is defined as the processing of information or any mental activity such as to remember, to learn, perceive, believe, decide or communicate. An individual’s brain applies strategies so as to process information and draw a conclusion. However, sometimes the person’s reasoning can be off and thus does not make reasonable judgments thus these decisions can be wrong sometimes.
Decisions are usually made each and every day. The simple, effective rules and regulations that individuals use on a daily basis to form a judgment as well as make a decision are known as heuristics in psychology. Heuristics are mental shortcuts often involving a focus on certain aspects of complex problems as well as paying no attention to others. Under most circumstances, these rules work very well. However, they may also lead to systematic deviation from logics, probabilities or rational choice theories. When these decisions go wrong, the significant errors are known as cognitive biases. They are different types of cognitive biases that have been documented. In situations such as making investments decisions, making the judgments on a legal case, or valuing a house, biases and heuristics have been depicted.
Heuristics more often than not governs automatic and intuitive judgments; however, it may also be utilized as a deliberate mental strategy when one is working with very limited information or data. Cognitive limitation, constraints of time as well as the availability of information limit the human judgments. It is referred to as bounded rationality. Studies have been carried out on how people make real-world decisions and the things that make these experiences are unreliable or uncertain. Human beings are rational but are also prone making poor judgmental calls (Lilienfeld, et. al., 2014).
A lot of scholars have disputed the heuristics scientific approach that it only focuses on the human errors. According to these scholars add that it is only rational in a primary sense. Without being too demanding on the resources of the human brain, heuristics are good enough for most of the functions. Heuristics according to another perspective of the theory is entirely rational because they are accurate as a more complicated procedure, rapid, and may also be made without full information. Persuaders, sellers, and marketers can influence the decisions of clients including the quantity and prices that individuals pay for the goods and services. These they can only do if they have an in-depth knowledge and understanding of the heuristics role in the psychology of humans.
Availability heuristic engrosses approximating the probability of an incidence based on the easiness of which it comes to the human mind. It is a mental shortcut. When making a judgment or decisions, the human brain relies on the ease of thinking of examples. For illustration, if you asked individuals the percentage of crimes that were committed and involved violence in 2017, most of them would likely mention a higher rate because the highest numbers of highlighted offenses in the news are violent crimes like rape, murder, assault as well as robbery. It is not true because the percentage of the violent crimes reported in the United States of America in 2017 is less than 10% of the crimes according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (Lilienfeld, et. al., 2014). An available heuristic is wrong in this sense; we make assumptions that whenever there are easily accessible several examples in our minds, and then the situation is easier to solve and does not require further analysis or thinking
In most occasions, the availability heuristic is very accurate and valuable. Case in point, it makes the human brain or individual very useful whenever they are in a difficult or dangerous situation that requires swift reactions. We are more likely to protect ourselves and become very cautious whenever we think or reminisce on a similar ordeal that went all wrong for someone else.
A series of events and situations come into my mind whenever I want to make a decision. I typically give the most recent developments a lot of credence ignores those that happened in the past, and I cannot recall and overestimate the probability that such immediate events will reoccur. After seeing several cars theft news, individuals make up their mind that car theft is very common in a particular area. When trying to make a judgment call, availability heuristic is very useful. For instance, would you say that there are more letters in the English language that starts with letter t or k? Because we can think of more letters that start with letter t, we will decide that t has more words than letter k. And that is true. High estimates of individual events or situations are given by people who have recently experienced them. And it can sometimes lead to wrong judgment. It must be substantial if you can think of it, which is how the availability heuristic operates. The most typical example of availability heuristic is the impact of the readily available suggestions. You might be profoundly convinced of an impending world war after watching documentaries on world war. If you keep your thoughts glued to individual events or scenarios that you saw you are more likely to be convinced that it will happen to you. And certain events stick in our mind than others. Events can be dominant in our mind if we watch in the media or when it was very dramatic. Because such events recur in our minds, we tend to assume that it is very common.
Some of the availability heuristics include;
- One might start to believe they are in danger of losing their job when they start watching reports on people being laid off. These individuals tend to worry a lot about the job security.
- When one has seen a lot of reports or programs on shark attacks, they may refuse to go swimming in the ocean because they tend to get afraid that they might be attacked.
- Whenever you read so many articles on people winning lotteries, your mind informs that you are also able to be to win. You get to believe that people do win and then you remain optimistic when you play.
How we make decisions and the actions we take in the situations in our environment are the most useful factors of heuristics. It is imperative but may also lead to incorrect analysis and decision making. It is helpful that we rely on a lot of tools whenever we are making decisions and judgments. Just because something recurs in our mind, it is not necessarily the best choice.
The list of the decisions and judgments that we make every day is quite long. Human beings make decisions everywhere and every day. We would never do anything else if we cautiously analyzed and considered these determinations and recommendations’ every possible outcome. By using effective thinking strategies known as heuristics, our brain makes things easy for us. Without wasting much of our time doing research and analyzing information, this mental shortcut known as heuristic assists to make judgments and decisions. For illustrations, when you come across pianos that are tied to ropes above a sidewalk when walking down the streets. You are most likely to choose to walk around the area instead of directly underneath the pianos without a break in stride. You make snap judgments to walk around the danger zone because your intuition that walking under the pianos is or could be dangerous.
On very rare or no occasions will you find an individual stopping to analyze the whole situation or calculating the probability of the pianos falling on them or even calculating the chances of their survival if the pianos fell on them. Without using many mental efforts, individuals would use the heuristics to make the quick decision. In most cases, these heuristics are quite supportive. However, they may also lead to errors in decisions making and judgment. Even though they are very supportive on most occasions, these heuristics can even make the most intelligent people in our society to make very dumb judgments and decisions.
Lilienfeld, S., Lynn, S. J., Namy, L., Woolf, N., Jamieson, G., Marks, A., & Slaughter, V. (2014). Psychology: From inquiry to understanding (Vol. 2). Pearson Higher Education AU.