The Availability Heuristic - Essay Sample

2021-08-01 16:33:58
4 pages
998 words
Carnegie Mellon University
Type of paper: 
Research paper
This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

The Availability Heuristic was first theorized by Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tyersky (Pachur, Hertwig, & Steinmann, 2012). It is an experience-based mental technique for learning problem-solving and discovery, which makes the process of decision making quicker and simpler through mental shortcuts that ease cognitive loads, using an example that immediately comes to one's mind to evaluate and analyze a decision, method, concept or topic CITATION Jef14 \l 1033 (Anastasi, 2014). When trying to determine a decision, rather than focusing on all options present, the brain makes a decision or forms an opinion based on examples or information in our minds. Primarily, the brain works to determine a suitable solution rather than a logical or accurate one to find the solution to the problem faster while decreasing anxiety on itself CITATION Jef14 \l 1033 (Anastasi, 2014). This plays an important role in commercials and advertisement. Failure to persuade customers has a negative implication on popular brands. However, when advertisers take advantage of heuristic, they increase their chances of persuading customers to buy their products and services. Knowing ways of invoking heuristics in commercials can help advertisers to boost their chances of persuading consumers CITATION Meg17 \l 1033 (Kurose, 2017). Therefore, this paper focusses on availability heuristic as a powerful tool of advertisement by discussing some few commercials.

Some heuristics advertisers depend on persuading potential consumers through the concept of the availability heuristic. Many commercials exploit availability heuristic by providing consumers with a taste of what they can experience while using their (Bellur & Sundar, 2014). This excites the imagination of the customers while at the same time it imprints a positive link in the memory between their products and the attractive outcome they can achieve. Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tyersky state that experiences have taught people that instances of large classes can be recalled faster and better than instances of less frequent classes (Pachur, Hertwig, & Steinmann, 2012). This means that occurrences are easier to imagine that the unlikely experiences. If consumers can easily remember example or instances, of something, it means that the exposure to commercials can influence their outlook on reality. The following are the examples that discuss some few commercials:

In the Channel's Shark Week commercial, viewers have been drawn to witness footages of sharks, as one of the world's most dangerous predators CITATION Jef14 \l 1033 (Anastasi, 2014). Although one may not be interested in surfing based on the tensions or fear of the sharks or based on his/her recent memory on the program, the truth is that it would be unlikely for the person to see the shark or being wounded. Even if the individual lives near the sea, the chances of being attacked are much slimmer. Therefore, the event looks likely because the surfer can recall it faster and efficiently. By using information that is available to us, we are exposed to logical fallacies that determine our decisions or influence our actions and behaviors. In such a case, the Availability Heuristic is critical to advertisers by making consumers recall their products and make a buying decision in future.

The Ebola panic is well remembered in the world in 2014 because of the commercials that were created on the internet, radio, and TV CITATION Meg17 \l 1033 (Kurose, 2017). Compared to the people in Sub Saharan Africa, Americans were more concerned about contracting Ebola let alone dying from it. A Gallup poll carried out in 2014 indicates that one in every six individuals in the United States was worried about contracting Ebola CITATION Meg17 \l 1033 (Kurose, 2017). However, there were only 10 cases that were documented about Ebola in the United States compared about 20, 000 case in Sub-Saharan Africa CITATION Meg17 \l 1033 (Kurose, 2017). This means Americans were heavily and inaccurately skewed based on the judgments of their minds for the probability of contracting Ebola. The danger of Ebola was particularly emphasized in the TV and radio commercials and hence in mind. Thus, advertisers can use such threats to mortality or health in their commercials as a means of controlling the spread and infection of particular diseases.

These examples show that availability heuristic is an influential cognitive falsification that indicates the believability of something is based on the ease of recall. People depend on knowledge that is readily available instead of examining other procedures or alternatives and weigh their judgments based on the recent information. The easier is it to recall the result and consequence of something, the more the consequences and results are perceived to be (Bellur & Sundar, 2014). Our recall of facts and events are based on the number of repetitions we are exposed to through advertisements on TV, internet or radio. Knowing ways of invoking heuristics in commercials help advertisers to boost their chances of persuading consumers. Thus, advertisers can take advantage of availability heuristic because it increases their chances of persuading customers to buy their products and services.

The savviest advertising and marketing professionals should understand the psychology of heuristics to positively exploit human irrationalities that can help build brand awareness and impact the company profits CITATION Jef14 \l 1033 (Anastasi, 2014). Statistically, an individual cannot be eaten by a shark while surfing in the ocean, but still he may be more scared of such an unlikely event than they are of traffic accidents or heart diseases. This is how the probability and frequency of events become skewed in people's minds. Dramatic events and diseases may be memorable and more exposed by the news, intensifying the implication of heuristic, which helps advertisers in persuading potential consumers.


BIBLIOGRAPHY Anastasi, J. S. (2014, February 7). The Availability Heuristic: How Recall Ability Affects Perception. Retrieved from

Bellur, S., & Sundar, S. S. (2014). How can we tell when a heuristic has been used? Design and analysis strategies for capturing the operation of heuristics. Communication Methods and Measures, 8(2), 116-137.

Kurose, M. (2017, January 19). The Availability Heuristic: How It Can Improve Your Marketing Strategy. Retrieved from

Pachur, T., Hertwig, R., & Steinmann, F. (2012). How do people judge risks: availability heuristic, affect heuristic, or both?. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 18(3), 314.

Have the same topic and dont`t know what to write?
We can write a custom paper on any topic you need.

Request Removal

If you are the original author of this essay and no longer wish to have it published on the website, please click below to request its removal: