Episode 3: This is Why Our Brain Gives Influential Power to Our Most Recent Experiences


We tend to believe that whatever comes to mind more quickly means it’s far more common and more accurate, giving unprecedented influential power to recent experiences.

That’s why we assume our recent memories are a representation of reality.

In this episode of Catalytic Results, Founder Hamid Ghanadan explores why our brains rely on whatever experience or information it can quickly recall — and that tends to be what happened most recently.

B2B marketers can leverage the Availability Heuristic, and influence their audience to make decisions.

This is the third episode in a multi-part series on how B2B organizations can leverage human behavior and heuristics to inspire change among your audience.

What did you read about just before watching this video?  

Is the stock market going up today, or down?  

Is there a hurricane sweeping across the coast?  

Or maybe a friend told you about a major glitch with their computer?

These aren’t idle questions. Our most recent experiences shape not only our thoughts but also the decisions we make in hugely significant ways.

Leveraging this insight and taking into account recent events can generate catalytic results for your organization.

If we can recall an instance of a situation, we’re more likely to overestimate how often it occurs. That’s why people are more likely to overestimate the chances of a hurricane, if there’s been a recent one.

People use heuristics, which are shortcuts for the brain, to make decisions. And one of these shortcuts is our brains’ desire to look for available examples to help guide our decisions.

For example, I once heard a story of a doctor who had just read about an extremely rare condition, and was shocked when one of his patients displayed signs of that very same, rare infection, even though the chances were extremely low that his patient had the same condition he had just read about. That’s what the availability heuristic looks like when it’s played out in a technical setting.

If you’re a technical professional, or you communicate with them regularly, you’ll want to be aware of this heuristic in some key areas of your work.

Here’s how:

Let’s say you want to encourage your audience to work more efficiently. One way of doing so is making them aware of any inefficiencies in their workflow and processes. So providing them with very specific stories of inefficient examples in a similar environment would make their own inefficiencies top of mind.

Now, you don’t even need to overtly connect the story with the choice itself. The brain is looking for available instances and will connect the dots. Letting their brain do the work, and letting the audience make the decision itself, is actually more powerful than if you make the connection for them.  

Invoking your audience’s availability heuristic can help frame their decisions better.

Humans are beautifully complex. And our actions are governed by certain patterns. Understand these patterns, you can inspire people to action and create Catalytic Results.


Business Examples + Studies

Sometimes the availability heuristic will nudge people toward believing some events are more frequent than they actually are.

In this study, researchers conduct an experiment using repeated games to determine whether or not the same piece of information is seen as more significant because it derived from a direct experience rather than from observation. The results? People’s actions are heavily influenced by the behavior they directly interact with rather than what they only observe.

Did you know that the reason people buy lottery tickets is heavily influenced by the availability heuristic?