n. a common quick strategy for making judgments about the likelihood of occurrence. Typically, the individual bases these judgments on the salience of similar events held in memory about the particular type of event. The quicker something springs to mind about an event, (i.e. the more available the information), the more likely it is judged to be. Use of this strategy may lead to errors of judgment (e.g., well-publicized events, such as plane crashes) leads people to believe that those kinds of events are more probable than they actually are. Compare with representativeness heuristic. See also heuristic.

AVAILABILITY HEURISTIC: "The person used the availability heuristic when he or she decided no social work jobs were available in America, after witnessing a distinct lack of vacancies in one particular town."
Cite this page: Nugent, Pam M.S., "AVAILABILITY HEURISTIC," in PsychologyDictionary.org, April 7, 2013, https://psychologydictionary.org/availability-heuristic/ (accessed November 17, 2018).