I’ve written before about things I learned from Daniel Kahneman’s wonderfully interesting book, “Thinking, Fast and Slow“.
In a section on availability bias, Kahneman shared useful information for couples.
Availability bias is the way we judge situations by relying on immediate examples that come mind.
For example, as Kahneman points out, divorces among Hollywood celebrities and sex scandals among politicians attract much attention, and instances of both come to mind easily. As a result, we are likely to exaggerate the frequency of both Hollywood divorces and political sex scandals.
Another interesting example: One group of people were asked to list six instances in which they behaved assertively, and a second group was asked to list 12 instances. Those who were able to list six in the first group, ranked themselves as more assertive than those in the second experiment who were able to list 10 because the latter group couldn’t come up with as many as asked.
Similarly, when married couples are asked their contribution to keeping their household clean, each thinks they do more than they do—as a result, it almost always adds up to more than 100%!
The reason is each of us remembers our own individual efforts and contributions much more clearly than those of the other(s). It is therefore helpful, for our happiness and health, and for happier and healthier relationships, to remember: it is likely we will, at least occasionally, do more than our share, or feel we are doing more than our share. Being aware of that, the next step is to get into the habit of remembering not to sweat the small stuff—and this is definitely small stuff.
What are some real-life examples of availability bias you have experienced? Please join the conversation with your comments…