The Availability Bias - Deepstash

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How to Not Attribute to Malice Things Adequately Explained by Stupidity

The Availability Bias

Availability Bias is a mental shortcut that makes us form opinions or base our decisions related to recent information that is easy to recall.

We need to probe deeper and move towards better information gathering.

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Defining difficult people
Defining difficult people

We are social creatures who desire validation. We feel good when others share our belief system. But we feel dejected when others do not value our inputs, crush our ideas, or ignore what we have to say.

These difficult people act in undesirable ways and give us permission to pass judgement and offload responsibility by blaming them for undesirable outcomes.

Influences that define difficult people

We view the world and the people in it from a specific paradigm.

How we relate to someone is driven by our personality, expectations, background, and experience. Why we find someone difficult is then a very personal affair.

The TRICK framework that drives us
  • T - Tagging. We are quick to label others as needy, manipulative, fake, arrogant, but explain away our own selfish acts and believe we are better than others.
  • R - Righteous. When we find someone difficult, we start believing in the righteousness of how we feel, what we want, and why the other person deserves to be treated in a certain way. We reject them as a person, as well as their ideas.
  • I - Intention. Once we know we are right, it's easy to assume they act out of bad intent.
  • C - Confirmation. Once we think someone is difficult, every interaction serves as a validation of our beliefs. We will reject the evidence that contradicts our beliefs and seek information that strengthens our views.
  • K - Keenness to fix others. Without changing our own behavior, we assume the other person is at fault and then desire to fix them.
A Meeting With Conflict

When polarizing topics are discussed in meetings, it can turn into a fight. In these conflicts, where passions run high, people tend to confuse correlation with causation while determining the reason for the problem, or can have hindsight bias. They can also create evidence out of nothing or assume a maliciousness intent from the decision-makers.

Mental models are tools that can help us navigate through such challenging or confusing situations.

Hanlon's Razor

This mental model states that most actions made by people need not be categorized as malicious or intentionally bad, but simply a sign of incompetence and acting out of fear.

Many poor decisions and actions are not intentional but due to ineptitude. By following this mental model, we untie ourselves from unnecessary negativity and work towards a solution.

Relativity

The mental model of relativity states that everyone's outlook, viewpoint and perspective are different from ours.

The same situation is looked in different ways by people, and understanding these variations can help us toward a meaningful dialogue with them. We can diffuse any inherent conflict by hearing out and identifying what we understand, making the other person feel listened to.