Making decisions
Making decisions

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4.4 Using information

Our use of information is often biased in important regards. First, we pay more attention to information that is easily available (the availability heuristic). Second, we overweight memories which are more easily retrievable – usually because they are emotionally vivid or have personal relevance (the retrievability heuristic).

We pay selective attention to information, often in a self-serving way. We will often give greater weight to information which shows us in a favourable light (self-serving bias), or information that supports an already established point of view (the confirmation bias). For example, in some research that colleagues and I carried out into the decision making of traders in investment banks, one trader told us:

I spend time talking to a lot of people; consultants, other traders on the desk, in the markets, finding out what people are doing. I am always absorbing information. … I like to find people who have the same thought processes as me.

This trader may have been suffering from the confirmation bias: unconsciously avoiding people who might offer views too different from his own.

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