How far away is the Sun from the Earth?
a.) 106.2 Million Miles
b.) 175.7 Million Miles
c.) 314.9 Million Miles
Got your answer? Great! It's wrong. The Sun is actually 92.96 million miles away from the Earth. You might be thinking, “Hey, that’s not fair! That wasn’t even an option!” And you’d be exactly right. This is what researchers call Availability Bias.
Availability Bias occurs when your mind creates a mental shortcut that places significance on information that’s easily accessed. When asked how far away the Sun is from the Earth (and you actually have no clue as to the real distance), your brain makes a selection from the list of options available, that require the least amount of energy to retrieve. Concerned about what other mental shortcuts your brain might be taking without your conscious permission? Learning about biases like Availability Bias is a first step toward training your brain to make better, more mindful decisions!
Next time you are asked to answer a question, challenge yourself to pause and consider other options, options that tend not to readily come to mind. Are you missing valuable information? By stepping away from immediate answers that pop up quickly, you’ll take an essential step down the path to more consistent, thoughtful decision-making.
How might Availability Bias impact you as you make decision in meetings, about people and projects?
How could Availability Bias prevent you from soliciting or hearing other people’s ideas?
Remember, be less certain and be more curious!