I study using spaced repetition as part of my daily checklist, and one of the geekier topics that I learn about are the many (and growing) cognitive biases.
A question related to the availability heuristic popped up, right as I looked over to see my son Sam working on his 4th grade “introduce yourself to the class” poster.
He had just finished a section documenting some of his favorite things:
I had to smile and laugh as I looked them over, and I thought about what was going through his head:
- Color: “hmm, I guess I should write the color blue in actual blue”
- Movie: ant man <= last movie he saw
- TV show: The Goldbergs. I was surprised he didn’t write Family Guy :). I love that he loves the goldbergs…. as it is one of the shows we watch as a family.
- Sport: Lacrosse <= last sport he participated in (having just started)
- Animal: “I like pandas… hmm but I like penguins too, I should put them both down”. Ah, just when he seems so old to me… starting 4th grade, he then reminds me that he is still my lil guy. As a baby he slept with and loved his “guiny”
- Snack: “I like hamburgers.” He will argue with you about In and Out vs. Five Guys vs. The Counter vs. Gotts vs. …. He does like brussels sprouts and seaweed too!
- Drink: “San Pellegrino”. Wow! He is his father’s son! 🙂
- Holiday: “Christmas”. Duh. Although I could have seen halloween. His favorite comedy sketch is Seinfeld on halloween, and it is epic: “Who is giving out candy? EVERYONE I KNOW IS GIVING OUT CANDY?”
- Song: “Cheerleader”. Really? Man, I hate those lyrics. It is one of the songs on repeat these days in the Aiden Mix. Others include: Honey, I’m Good, Pompeii, Sugar, The Lazy Song (they love the monkeys in the video!), and Party Rock (you have to watch with the stormtroopers!)
- Celebrity: “DJ SoLoMaNXX”. Because he just wrote Party Rock. It it wasn’t for availability I think he would have gone for a Minecraft YouTuber!
- “Any”. I love how he started by putting any as answers, bypassing the whole point of showcases your favorite!
A slew of these answers are not true favorites in the measured sense. The availability in memory, enforced with the anchoring of prior questions ends up with these answers on paper.
The glimpse into Sam that his class will get is fairly representative, but isn’t the full picture.
How many of the impressions that we make are like this?