Critical Thinking

Cognitive Bias: Availability, Correspondence and Affect Heuristic


The Affect Heuristic is how we feel, is how we think. This is known as the affect heuristic and shows that our mood heavily influences our thinking.

When we’re happy and relaxed, we’re more likely to be forgiving, more open and less sceptical in our thinking. Conversely, when we’re tense or unhappy, we’ll be more judgemental, close-minded and cynical.

The way to stay objective is simple, ask yourself “would I be thinking this if I were in a bad/good mood?” Often just asking the question can prompt you to be more open-minded, with a healthy level of scepticism.

Availability is a mental shortcut that relies on immediate examples that come to a person’s mind when evaluating a specific topic, concept, method or decision. This is based on the idea that if we remember it and it comes to mind first, it must be important. Being unable to distinguish the difference, the brain stores both the relevant and irrelevant so what immediately jumps to mind, isn’t always the most relevant or useful.

Correspondence Bias: This usually relates to ourselves but is often applied to other people. When correspondence bias is in play, we tend to believe that our own character and actions are responsible for the good things in our life, but our environment and external factors are responsible for all the bad things.

However, with other people, we’re not as affected by this, unless of course you don’t like the person, then you’ll be more likely to assign every negative outcome as their fault.

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