Definition: After watching an episode of a crime-solving drama on television, are you ever left with the feeling that horrific crimes you just witnessed are all to common in real life? According to psychologists Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman, this tendency to believe that things are more likely simply because they come to mind readily is known as an availability heuristic. They suggest that this tendency operates on the principle that "if you can think of it, it must be important."
It's the reason why you might be afraid to go into the water after watching "Shark Week" programming. Because examples of shark attacks spring to mind so easily, you mistakenly believe that such events are far more common and likely than they really are. Find more examples and observations in this definition of the availability heuristic.