How may the availability heuristic account for our perception of violence?
1. The availability heuristic is a mental shortcut that someone makes in their memory that relies on examples an individual has stored in their memory as an immediate example. This also includes present decisions one may make based on memories of similar situations from the past. A lot of life decisions are made from vivid information stashed away in our brain bank. For instance, if you win a nice amount of money on a scratch off lottery ticket, you may think your luck has finally arrived. This may prompt one to make the decision to buy even more tickets based off of the one big win. It’s a misleading situation for the mind.
Availability heuristic accounts for our perception of violence in mass amount these days. You can’t turn on the tv now without some sort of violence or news of violent actions that have taken place in our country. Our perception of violence is on high alert because violence is traumatic. For example, if I were jogging in my neighborhood and witnessed the same pickup truck passing by me several times that I have never seen before, my mind may automatically jump to a forensic files episode I saw last week that was based around women being kidnapped. Situations like this may sway my decisions as to if or when I decide to go jogging in my neighborhood. So, these mental shortcuts we form in our memories determine a lot of aspects in our lives. Especially when it comes to dangerous or violent situations.
The availability heuristic is defined as thought shortcuts that help to make judgements based on information and experiences that quickly come to mind. Due to our world revolving around mass media, we tend to absorb more bad news than good news because we are almost always presented with violence and devastation. This becomes imprinted in our brains to make us feel like violence and chaos is a lot more common in the world than it actually is, which in turn causes widespread fear across the country. When we think of violence, we often think of the worst and most frequent violent events that may be exaggerated in the mind, which increases the fear of the situation.
When we are extensively and regularly exposed to violence via the media, we can become desensitized to cruel behaviors. It is said that people of the Western civilization have become so conditioned to the suffering of humans that we are essentially immune to the fear that is felt when presented with violence. This can create major social issues since the normalization of violence seems to be growing each day. When an individual is so emotionally detached from feeling any remorse for human suffering, they may begin to carry out their own acts of violence that feeds a different type of excitement. Since we have a lot more personal freedoms in America, weapons are very accessible and attainable and so are vast amounts of information. In this day and age, it is extremely easy to carry out violent and harmful acts as the amount of anger and hate people give off directly influences that.
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