How to Choose –  SHOW NOTES

Season 3, Episode 4: If my memory serves me correctly…(Availability Bias)

Tessa Mudge & Ken Smith


In Season 3 of How to Choose, we’re exploring the topic of thinking problems or biases that get in the way of making accurate judgements and good decisions. We’ll look at eight common problems and suggest some ways that we can reduce (but sadly not eliminate!) the impact of these problems.

In this episode we explore the thinking problem known as ‘availability bias’. Availability bias is the tendency to pay more attention to – and give more credence to – information that springs to mind quickly.


Our memories are more fallible than many of us realise. For the vast majority of us, enduring episodic memories are only formed for events that have a strong impact on us.

We also discuss the error of ‘substitution’ – the tendency to subconsciously reframe a difficult question so that we’re answering something subtly different to the question we were asked.


Interested to learn more about how our memory works? Check out the fascinating book ‘Remember’ by Lisa Genova.


Remember that your memory isn’t always reliable (which given your memory’s weaknesses might be hard to do!!) Just because a ‘fact’ or an incident jumps into your mind, that doesn’t mean it is the most accurate or useful information to support a judgment or decision.


In our next episode we examine the unusual tendency towards ‘hindsight bias’. You’ll find it fascinating – just remember we told you so 🙂

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